Ciudad Juárez vigilantes threaten deadly vengeance campaign

A group calling itself the “Juárez Citizens Command” issued a manifesto this week setting a deadline of July 5 for authorities to restore order in the violence-plagued Mexican border city before it will begin following through on its threat to kill a criminal a day. The 10-point manifesto issued Jan. 27 was the second communication from the organization that was unknown prior to its initial threat made on Jan. 15. “The CCJ declares war on the thieves, kidnappers and extortionists that have put in risk the rights of citizens and reiterates its plan to terminate the life of a criminal every 24 hours for the good of all Juarenses,” the document stated in Spanish.

The manifesto, sent via e-mail to the El Paso Times and other media, was signed by leaders identified only as Comandante Abraham and Sub-Comandante Gabriel “Durito.” It stated that if order is not restored by midnight July 5, “the CCJ will take to the streets with its army of men and women to do what the government could not.” The document, showing a half-black, half-red star, said that the CCJ willing to share information with the military and that it will launch a website on Feb. 2.

Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz asked residents to maintain faith in authorities even as anger grows over kidnappings, extortion, carjackings and a wave of violence that left more than 1,600 dead in the city last year.

Classes at a pre-kindergarten were canceled Jan. 27 when a note threatening the lives of children was posted at the school’s entrance demanding a $5,000 ransom. The following day, the headless body of a man—the second in as many days—was found in a canal in the community of Juárez y Reforma, possibly linked to three severed heads left the day before in an ice chest in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos, police said.

The legitimacy of the Comando Ciudadano por Juárez (CCJ) remained in question, with Chihuahua Prosecutor General Patricia González saying there was no evidence of a vigilante movement. “We really consider it is a strategy by a criminal organization to generate more violence and destabilize society in Ciudad Juárez,” González said on a radio show the day the communique was issued.

But the communique itself addressed the widespread skepticism about the group. “The government wants to believe that we don’t exist,” a line at the end of the statement read. “But we are closer than they think.” (El Paso Times, Jan. 22)

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