Mexican Anti-Drug Vigilante Group Gains Legal Recognition

And training from the Mexican army


Mexico's drug war isn't just a conflict between the government and heavily-armed cartels. There's a third faction: vigilantes who have proliferated across nearly half of Mexico's states and dozens of municipalities, and who operate in the space between the law and the lawless. Now the vigilantes are getting legalized.

This week, Bruno Placido — the leader of one of Mexico's largest militia groups — signed an agreement with Angel Aguirre, governor of the state of Guerrero, to effectively legalize Placido's army of 800 vigilante fighters. Called UPOEG, for "The Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero," the militia went from being a community activist group five months ago to a force of hundreds of armed and hooded vigilantes that promised to expand further.

According to El Universal, the details are still being worked out, but the plan is to regulate the militia under a "Community Security System" where the fighters are to coordinate with local, state and federal police, not agitate for political causes, and not patrol outside their own communities. In exchange, the plan sets up "training in human rights and protection and self-defense strategies, that will be taught by the Mexican Army."