A group of townspeople from a Southern town in Mexico, who have grown tired of their loved ones getting abducted by evil drug lords in their area, and have made a bold move to get them back. In an attempt to get the abductees returned, the townspeople decided to capture the mother of a drug kingpin and demand the release of their loved ones in exchange.
The mother of drug kingpin Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, aka “El Tequilero,” was captured along with two dozen others believed to be a part of the gang. Now, they are all being held hostage.
De Almonte’s gang, known as the “Tequileros,” have been fighting turf wars with rival gangs over the past several months. The gang kidnapped several residents of Totolapan to extort them or because they believed they were supporting a rival gang.
One person abducted by the gang on Sunday is engineer Isauro de la Paz Duque.
“We have your mother here, Mr. Tequilero,” de la Paz Duque’s wife said on a video Monday. “I propose an exchange: I’ll give you your mother if you give me my husband, but I want him safe and sound.”
Five of the townspeople’s abductees have so far been released, the AP reported. De Alamonte’s mother is not one of the abductees released.
Several dozen men appeared in the town’s streets waving rifles and shotguns in the air. A video shows the men carrying banners and calling for action to be taken against de Alamonte. They are calling themselves a “self-defense” force.
“We urgently demand the release of the kidnap victims,” a masked man says in the video. “We are a legitimate self-defense force of the people.”
The government of Guerrero state said on Tuesday that 220 soldiers would be deployed to the town to fix the situation. The state government said in a statement that they also sent a negotiating team to establish contact with the vigilantes and to help search for the de la Paz Duque.
After talking with the townspeople, state police were tasked with overseeing the exchange of the de Alamonte’s mother for de la Paz Duque.
The townspeople also agreed to freeing their remaining captives as long as they were to be investigated or charged.
Authorities said that even though they understand residents are tired of crime, they discourage kidnapping and trying to act like a police force.
“The truth is, they are not really community forces, nor are they police,” Gov. Hector Astudillo told the AP. “They are armed groups that unfortunately carry out acts … that generate more violence and confrontation, rather than help.”
“This is something that has to end—that every time somebody gets the idea into their head of kidnapping somebody, they kidnap them,” Astudillo said on Tuesday.