Mexican Cartel Retaliate Against Angry Residents

( – In December one of Mexico’s notoriously brutal drug cartels ran into an unexpected problem when angry farmers rebelled and attacked the gang’s gunmen. There were deaths on both sides, but the criminals came off worse. The cartel has now hit back by kidnapping over a dozen people, including children.

On December 8, a gang of gunmen from the Familia Michoacana cartel visited the village of Texcaltitlan to collect protection money from local farmers. The farmers were fed up with paying the gang, however — and when the enforcers turned up, the locals turned on them with farm tools and hunting rifles. Although the gunmen were armed with automatic weapons, just four villagers died against ten cartel members.

The pushback was a direct challenge to the cartel’s authority, and now the gang is trying to re-establish its dominance. On December 27, local prosecutors announced that 14 people who had previously been listed as “missing” had actually been kidnapped by the cartel. The victims include three policemen, a wounded villager abducted from the hospital — who was taken soon after the December 8 battle — and four children, aged between 18 months and 14 years old.

Head prosecutor José Luis Cervantes says no ransom demand has been received from the cartel, but villagers are telling a different story. They say the cartel wants the leaders of the December 8 fight handed over to them in exchange for the hostages. That makes sense; the gang will want to take visible revenge on the people who dared to defy it.

If it doesn’t reassert its authority, other villagers will be tempted to fight back too, and the loss of protection money could seriously affect the cartel’s income. Of course, people who were willing to lead an uprising against heavily armed gunmen might not be inclined to surrender to criminals.

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