Mexico's Vigilantes

Over the past few years, drug-related violence in Mexico has driven local citizens to the breaking point. Fed up with the lack of security provided by the police, and with intimidation and attacks from members of various drug cartels and criminal gangs, people have started their own self-defense groups. Armed groups of ordinary citizens have set up security checkpoints, disarmed and chased away police they considered ineffective, and even organized ambitious manhunts to apprehend or kill suspected criminal bosses. While the vigilante groups have had some success, the Mexican government is now trying to reign in the lawless aspects by integrating these citizens into a new police group called the Force Rural State -- formally providing them with weapons, uniforms, and training. While some of the vigilantes are cooperating, others insist they won't lay down their own guns until top leaders of The Knights Templar (Los Templarios) drug cartel are arrested.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Niranjan Shrestha/AP

    What Nepal's Earthquake Left Behind

    Nepalis started fleeing their devastated capital of Kathmandu on April 27 after Saturday's earthquake killed more than 3,700 people and toppled entire streets, as the United Nations prepared a "massive" aid operation.

  • Denis Balibouse / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 4/18-4/24

    This week we have images of a Chilean volcano, migrants shipwrecked in the Mediterranean, the "Blue Forest" in Belgium,  Kim Jong Un atop Mt Paektu, the Boston Marathon, Orcas hunting on a Patagonian beach, Saudi attacks on Yemen, tule elk along California's coastline, and much more.

  • Omar Havana/Getty Images

    Nepal After the Earthquake

    A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal early on Saturday, centered 10 miles below the surface, less than 50 miles from the capital of Kathmandu. As many as 3,700 have been killed by the quake and subsequent avalanches triggered in the Himalayas.

  • Smithsonian.com

    Winners of the 2014 Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

    The editors of Smithsonian magazine have announced the winners of their 12th annual photo contest, selected from more than 26,500 entries.

Join the Discussion