Tired of the criminal siege, 3,000 avocado and blackberry producers from the municipalities of Salvador Escalante, Ario de Rosales, Nuevo Urecho, and Tarétan, in the Michoacán, made a decision: to take up arms to defend themselves and defend their lands from criminal cartels.
Today, in these towns, a true private armed force guards the area, establishing itself as a parallel authority that wants to confront the drug cartels. With high-powered weapons, they have closed access to their communities to drug traffickers and hitmen, choosing who enters and who does not. And for those who see them as the Knights Templar criminal group back in 2014, they make it clear: they are not self-defense or a criminal organization of any kind.
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This area, located less than 100 kilometers from the state capital Morelia, is already controlled by a movement that calls itself the “United Nations”, which arose in response to the incursions of Los Viagras and the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG). who have sought for months to settle in and control the region, one of the most fertile in Michoacán.
The farmers, mostly hooded, installed 54 barricades in Ario de Rosales, Salvador Escalante, Nuevo Urecho and Taretan, to protect themselves. In the most numerous checkpoint, with 150 armed men, right on the deviation to Aparicuaro, on the way to Huacana, a region controlled by the (CJNG), grenade launchers, bulletproof vests, AK-47, R-15 rifles, pistols, and M-1 carbines abound.
At the checkpoint, day and night, in 12-hour shifts, four men with long weapons guard the two-way road divided by tires. The pavement is littered with dirt and stones for cars to slow down.
Avocado farmers have been besieged by the Viagras cartel, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, La Familia Michoacana and other criminal groups.
The testimonies of inhabitants of different municipalities in this region of Michoacán include having been victims of terrible atrocities; members of their families murdered, including women and minors, their houses burned down, their belongings stolen.
That is why the people of this area have been forced to take up arms on their own account, as they claim that the municipal, state and federal authorities are not helping them at all.