CHILPANCINGO, Mexico – Hundreds of residents of a mining region in southern Mexico have taken up arms to confront the criminal outfits terrorizing the area, the vigilantes told EFE on Monday.
The self-defense group comprises people from at least 10 communities in the Mezcala mining district, roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Chilpancingo, capital of Guerrero state.
“So much kidnapping, so much extortion. We are tired of it. We ask for help from the government. They don’t hear us,” one of the vigilantes said.
“What we want is peace and so we are taking up arms today to defend our families,” he said.
The new militia plans to patrol the sector of the Los Filos, Bermejal, El Guaje, and Limon gold mines.
The vigilantes were joined Sunday by other residents of Mezcala in blocking the main highway from Mexico City to the Guerrero coastal resort city of Acapulco to dramatize their demand for improved public safety.
Gangs are using intimidation to force residents to hand over a portion of the rent inhabitants receive from the mine operators.
“In Carrizalillo, they take 10 percent of the annual rent that the miner pays us, and if we don’t give it to them, they kill us,” an area farmer told EFE.
The farmer belongs to a rural cooperative – known as an ejido – that gets $54,000 a year from Canadian-owned miner Gold Corp.
Two criminal organizations, Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos, are engaged in a bloody struggle for control of Mezcala, which commands access to the mountains where most of Guerrero’s marijuana and opium poppies are grown.