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Michoacan, where a bulletproof vest is part of a priest's wardrobe

Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 - 01:40

Jan. 18 - Vigilantes continue to mount road blocks to secure the area against drug cartel in Michoacan, Mexico where one priest says more than 1,000 people have been killed. Gavino Garay reports.

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It's a place where a bulletproof vest is part of a priest's wardrobe. This is Michoacan, Mexico. Vigilantes are taking up arms as they attempt to fight off the Knights Templar drug cartel. The drug ring has a firm grip on the state, which is an impoverished agricultural area -- and has a major port. The vigilantes are creating roadblocks on highways with guns in hand -- refusing government orders to disarm. They check the vehicles passing through for cartel members. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MASKED UNIDENTIFIED VIGILANTE SAYING: "Not one bullet fired from any gun. Everything was done in peace." A priest describes the extent of the violence caused by the drug rings. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FATHER GREGORIO LOPEZ SAYING: "I am here to defend the poor for the thousands of orphans that we have. There are more than 1,000 people dead in this region. There have been some 300 and a fraction kidnappings, disappeared. We have ranches, more than 400 ranches have been robbed." And the funerals are relentless... On Thursday, federal forces were deployed in an attempt to tame the violence. Since 2006, the murder rate has almost doubled as traffickers have moved on from growing marijuana to producing methamphetamine in labs hidden by mountains and avocado groves. This is the lavish home of a drug lord who fled in a rush. It boasts fine champagne, Luis Vuitton, and custom furniture. Even the holy bible. Heavily armed vigilantes claim to have taken possession of the property. Despite the frightening environment, there are still small signs of normalcy. But the fight is far from over.

Michoacan, where a bulletproof vest is part of a priest's wardrobe

Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 - 01:40

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