MEXICO – Vigilantes in a Mexican village have kidnapped the mother of a local drugs gang chief, who they say they will free in exchange for the release of locals. After seizing alleged collaborators of the gang including the mother of its boss, Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, also known as El Tequileiro, the villagers released a video message.
“In return for my husband’s life, I will deliver your mother,” says a kidnap victim’s wife in one video, which has been broadcast on local TV.
“We have your mother here, mister, known as El Tequilero,” said Yadira Guillermo Garcia, whose husband, an engineer, was seized by the gang, addressing the gang leader.
“I request an exchange…. I want him safe and sound.”
Around 220 police and soldiers have been deployed to the village of Totolapan in Guerrero in the hope of defusing the situation. Police said that the villagers had released five of those kidnapped, but El Tequileiro’s mother was among those still held. The area has been the site of a turf war by cartels, with El Tequileiros henchmen kidnapping dozens of locals for extortion or because they claim they are working with rival gangs.
In late November, authorities in Guerrero said El Tequilero was believed to have been wounded and was hiding out with his kidnap victims in the mountains. The state attorney general headed an extensive manhunt using helicopters and troops on the ground in an unsuccessful effort to locate the gang leader. In towns including Totolapan locals have set up armed vigilante gangs to protect themselves against drugs gangs.
“We urgently demand the release of the kidnap victims,” a masked man says in a statement read on another video. “We are a legitimate self-defence force of the people.”