Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | January 9, 2014

U.S.-Mexican mom takes volunteer police force too far and is charged with kidnapping.

Meet Nestora Salgado Garcia, 41, a mother of three. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a longtime Seattle resident.

Nestora Salgado Garcia is also the leader of a volunteer police force in Mexico’s Guerrero state.

Returning home to Mexico after 20 years in the U.S., she grew tired of kidnappings, extortions and violence caused by drug groups and the state authorities’ lack of response.

“We cannot sleep in peace,” she said.

“What were we going to do? Wait to be killed?” she asked.

So she rallied to form the volunteer police force in her hometown, in Olinala, in Guerrero state. The group began as a type of neighborhood watch group. They developed a spy network in which few knew who was reporting to the group. They received government patronage.

But then, Nestora Salgado Garcia’s group took the law into their own hands when they arrested three teenage girls and accused them of selling cocaine for their drug-dealing boyfriends. Nestora Salgado Garcia sent the girls to a detention center at Paraiso. She also arrested a politically connected City Hall official and two associates, accusing them of stealing a cow.

The volunteer police force became a challenge to the authorities themselves. Her own community now accuses Nestora Salgado Garcia of carrying out arbitrary detentions and not respecting human rights. Authorities have arrested her and charged her with kidnapping.

Related:

Like in Colombia, Mexico’s paramilitary groups emerge from lawlessness.

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