Photo: Oaxaca Mexico News
Santos Reyes Nopala, a city in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, has formed a community self-defense force, joining other areas that have created such groups to fight crime, officials said.
The 500-person force, all of whose members are Santos Reyes Nopala residents, was sworn in by Mayor Fredy Gil Pineda Gopar.
The self-defense force was formed in response to both rising crime and alleged abuses by the army and Federal Police.
The force, whose members are armed with rifles and shotguns, is only concerned with providing security to the people living under its jurisdiction, the mayor said.
“We are going to guarantee peace and tranquility. We are going to guarantee that there will be no robberies, that there will be no homicides,” Pineda, a member of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, told Radio Formula.
The self-defense force’s goal is to provide security so regular municipal police officers can operate without interference from federal or state security forces, the mayor said.
Former President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers across the country to fight drug cartels, which infiltrated and gained influence over officers in many state and municipal police departments.
The war on drugs launched by Calderon, who was in office from 2006 to 2012, left about 70,000 people dead in Mexico, the government said.
Mexican press tallies estimate that about 12,000 people died in violent incidents linked to organized crime groups in 2012.
Santos Reyes Nopala joined the cities of Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos in neighboring Guerrero state in forming self-defense forces.