An Eye For An Eye In Mexico's Wild West, Communities Tackle Drug Violence

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Published on Feb 4, 2013
Rampant drug related violence (extortion, rape, kidnapping, theft) is overtaking Mexico. As communities in Mexico take justice into their own hands, the effects on society are broad and profound.

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Outraged at relentless extortion, kidnapping and theft as a wave of drug-related violence washes over Mexico, farmers, shopkeepers and other residents in the mountainous southern state of Guerrero are taking the law into their own hands as "community police."

[El Ciclon 45, Community Police Officer]:
"We have to fight for everyone's good so we decided to try to clear away all the bad people. We have to get rid of these animals because they are committing extortion in the community, the whole town and the people are fed up."

With official Mexican police and military forces leaving the community to handle legal affairs themselves, some residents recommend severe punishment for offenders.

[Odila Gonzalez, Resident]:
"Yes, their crime is big and serious. If they have raped, then they should be raped to see how it feels and why rape a poor child? Do to them what they have done to others."

But the community policing is also bringing its own problems.

As tensions increase and the community wages all out war on the drug cartels, many ordinary folks have stopped sending their kids to school.

The education minister for Guerrero state says:

[Silvia Romero Suarez, Education Minister, Guerrero State]:
"Closing schools is no way to combat the social cancer of insecurity, it impacts our schools because teachers are afraid and parents fear sending their children to class."

Mayor of the town Ayutla says the armed rebellion against drug gangs has given courage to the authorities.

[Severo Castro Godinez, Ayutla Town Mayor]:
"Fortunately today, thanks to this movement, Ayutla is at peace and I say this in all honesty and frankness, the community police are good people. They have filled us, the authorities, with courage."

Community police groups have also been used in Colombia, and the example is sobering.

Drug cartels later co-opted the community groups to fight against Marxist guerrillas.

The drug trade from South and Central America to the United States is worth billions of dollars every year.

In 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, including former UN chief Kofi Annan and former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, concluded that the global war on drugs has failed.

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