Women are fighting back in the Mexican state of Michoacán.

Por Lena Hansen
Enero 19, 2021

A band of female vigilantes has emerged in the area of Michoacán to fight Mexican drug cartels and keep their families and friends safe. The Associated Press reports that the state has faced the threat of the violent Jalisco drug cartel and these fearless women are fighting back, after homicides and violence in the area forced them to take desperate measures. These vigilantes carry assault weapons and set up roadblocks to help fight crime. According to the AP, some of the women are pregnant and carry their small kids with them.

Credit: Armando Solis/AP/Shutterstock

The fight with the cartels to them is personal, as many have lost family members. One woman told the AP her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped. "We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives. We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear," she said. "They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands."

Many men in their families have been forced to work for the cartels, they claim. "As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away," a woman told the AP. "They disappear. We don't know if they have them [as recruits] or if they already killed them."

Credit: Armando Solis/AP/Shutterstock

Alberto García had to escape after refusing to join the cartels and his family paid dearly for his choice. "They killed one of my brothers, too," García told the AP. "They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant."

This female-led militia claim the Mexican government and police have failed to protect their families, so they have no choice but to take action. They made a tank, "a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armor welded on it," the AP reports, and some have dug trenches to protect them from attackers.

El Terrero vigilantes, as the group is known, has been accused of being part of a local gang and disguising themselves as a self-defense group, which they deny. There are also male members of the El Terrero vigilante squad, like Sergio García, whose 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco's drug cartel. "We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook", García told the AP, "because if we don't do it, nobody else will."