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The Rise of Mexico’s Self-Defense Forces

Vigilante Justice South of the Border

Authors: Patricio Afura-Heim, and Ralph Espach
July/August 2013
Foreign Affairs


On a Tuesday morning in March, with rifles slung over their shoulders, some 1,500 men filed into the Mexican town of Tierra Colorada, which sits on the highway from Mexico City down to the Pacific coast. They seized at gunpoint 12 police officers and a local security official, whom they believed responsible for the murder of their commander. They set up roadblocks, and when a car of Acapulco-bound beachgoers refused to stop, they opened fire and injured a passenger.

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