15:03 GMT20 February 2020
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    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Local authorities in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero make their own decisions on arming local self-defence units and have legalised the training of children for armed self-defence, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday at a press conference.

    Earlier on Thursday, local media reported that the Indigenous Council of Mexcalcingo, a small community in the township of Alcozacan in the state of Guerrero, had approved the arming and training of boys and teenagers aged 8 to 15, while a local community policing group taught them to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from drug gangs.

    "Guerrero is a state where [armed] self-defence is legalised, and they [local authorities] define who cannot be a real member of the local self-defence forces and use weapons", the president said.

    He also stated that though National Guard forces had been deployed to the region, the local government did not consider military measures to be the best way to counter mass criminality.

    "The main [goal] is to understand reasons [for high crime rates], avoid family breakdowns, strengthen values, material welfare, and take care of youth so that everyone has the opportunity to study, guarantee the right to work, to a fair salary, and to prosperity. This is the main thing, and this is directly what we do, and we will not change", Obrador added.

    Earlier in January, ten musicians from the indigenous group Nahaus were shot dead and burned following an attack by a local drug cartel. The incident followed a separate incident a year earlier in which 18 gang members and nearly two dozen local residents were killed during an attack on the neighbouring community of Chilapa, situated along Mexico’s so-called "Corridor of Death" through which much of the heroin bound for the US passes.

    Last week, local residents blocked the main highway in the state, demanding the immediate deployment of two units of the National Guard in the region, and the return of the remains of the dead musicians from the military hospitals and forensic centres where they're being held.

    The incident was linked to the Los Ardillos crime syndicate that has been been involved for more than two decades in drug trafficking, extortion, and kidnapping in the state of Guerrero.

    In August 2019, residents handed a letter containing a list of security demands to the president. However, the federal government has not taken any measures so far.

    The war on drugs, unprecedented in its intensity, began in Mexico in 2006 under then-President Felipe Calderon, who summoned army units for operations against the drug mafia, reformed the Mexican federal police, and announced a hunt for the most notorious leaders of the Mexican criminal world.

    Related:

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    US Teen Accused of Smuggling Drugs Across US-Mexico Using Remote-Controlled Model Car
    Mexico Seizes 294 Tonnes of Drugs, 9,700 Weapons Over Year - Defence Ministry
    Tags:
    Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico, drug laws, Drug war, Drugs, drug
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