Fed up with police corruption and drug gang violence, a number of communities in the southern Mexico state of Guerrero and neighboring areas have formed citizen police groups.
Effectively vigilante outfits with no allegiance — and often outright hostility — to elected authorities, they are grassroots attempts by locals to rein in lawlessness in some of the areas most wracked by killings, kidnappings, extortion and other malfeasance.
For these citizen cops, being on duty can mean manning an impromptu roadblock to search vehicles for contraband, monitoring bars for nefarious activities or watching over rudimentary police stations complete with jail cells.
Patrolling on foot or in the back of a pickup truck, they are often armed with just rifles — a far cry from the high-caliber weapons used by Mexico's drug cartels, police and military.
It can be a deadly job. Daniel Julio Julio, a 22-year-old member of one militia, was ambushed and killed in the Guerrero village of Huamuchapa.
Civilians die at the vigilantes' hands as well. Alexis Estrada Asencio, a 17-year-old bull-riding enthusiast, and five other citizens were killed in La Concepcion on Jan. 7 in a confused gunfight between vigilante forces and other townsfolk over a dispute of a proposed hydro-electric dam near Acapulco.
Text from the AP news story, Clash of local officials, vigilantes leaves 11 dead by Mark Stevenson.
Photos by Rebecca Blackwell