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22 September, 2010

Citizen Vigilantism: The Next Step in Mexico's Drug War?


CBS News. 22 September 2010.
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Mexican authorities say a mob has beaten two alleged kidnappers to death in the northern border state of Chihuahua.

Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman Arturo Sandoval says dozens of angry people in the town of Asencion beat the two men Tuesday until federal police intervened.

Sandoval says officers put the men in their patrol car but the crowd blocked them from leaving and the men died of their wounds inside the car.

Residents shouted at the federal officers and held signs that read "We are tired, fed up with kidnappings, no more kidnappings in Asencion."

Local state lawmaker Alejandro Lebaron says the two men and three others are suspected in the kidnapping of a 17-year-old girl from Asencion.

This is either very good or very bad news.

Vigilantism is not a new feature of Mexico's drug war. However, most "vigilante" killings are indistinguishable from the inter-cartel murders that plague Northern Mexico. Vigilante is an attractive title for any hit-man who must legitimize his crimes.

This case is different. The communal nature of the killings gives us little reason to suspect that these mobsters were in the employ of a cartel. This in itself is hardly cause for celebration: that the citizens of Asencion did not trust their government to mete out justice is a testament to just how far the Mexican state has decayed.

On the other hand, if the citizens of Asencion are correct, and Mexico's federal government is truly too far gone to quell the chaos of the cartels, mobbery may be Mexico's last hope for salvation. Absencion has set a template for communities across Mexico to follow.

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