Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Mexico anti-drug militias return land to villagers

January 16, 2014

TANCITARO, Mexico – Mexican vigilante militias battling drug-traffickers in the restive state of Michoacán said Thursday they had returned several hundred acres of land seized from villagers by the notorious Knights Templar cartel.

The symbolic handover of some 654 acres (265 hectares) of land, which included many avocado and lemon orchards, took place in the village square of Tancitaro in the Michoacán highlands.

“Citizens, businessmen, farmers, people in the communities are bewildered by these narcos. Let’s get them out of our land,” militia leader Estanislao Beltran told AFP at the end of the ceremony.

Civilians first took up arms in February 2013 to oust the Knights Templar cartel from the region, saying local police were either colluding with gangs or unable to deal with the violence and extortion rackets.

Since then, officials have alleged that at least some civilian militias were backed by a cartel, with critics noting that they used unlawful assault rifles that gangs usually own.

Mexico’s federal police and army troops are currently waging a major operation aimed at wresting back control of Michoacán from the Knights Templar gang.

Federal security forces have also clashed with vigilantes who have refused to give up their weapons.

Beltran said Thursday his militia group would not lay down their arms and would continue to try and recover land seized by cartels, demanding the capture of drug lords before any disarmament.

Michoacán, where much of the population lives in poverty, has become the most pressing security issue facing Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, who inherited a bloody war on drugs from his predecessor in 2012 that has left more than 77,000 people dead since it was launched in 2006.

You may be interested

Costa Rica coronavirus data for July 6, 2020
Costa Rica
21188 views
Costa Rica
21188 views

Costa Rica coronavirus data for July 6, 2020

Alejandro Zúñiga - July 6, 2020

Costa Rica confirmed 245 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 5,241 cumulative known cases, the Health…

News briefs: Police continue shutting down events, enforcing vehicular restrictions
Costa Rica
3635 views
Costa Rica
3635 views

News briefs: Police continue shutting down events, enforcing vehicular restrictions

Alejandro Zúñiga - July 6, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life in Costa Rica, which has declared a State of Emergency and enacted sweeping…

Pic of the Day: Hiking through Irazú Volcano National Park
Pic of the Day
1163 views
Pic of the Day
1163 views

Pic of the Day: Hiking through Irazú Volcano National Park

The Tico Times - July 6, 2020

Irazú Volcano National Park is best known for views of the volcanic craters, but a second, lesser-known sector of the…