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In Mexico, the spread of vigilante groups sparks debate

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    People with their faces covered raise their fists during the announcement of the creation of a new communal police in the town of Colonia Brasilia, Mexico, near the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, Sunday Feb. 24, 2012. The group called "Community System for Security and Justice-People's Union," who said they belong to 20 communities of the Acapuco and Coyuca de Benitez region, announced the creation of a new communal police to help combat the growing violence and insecurity caused by organized crime. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)The Associated Press

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    A woman with her face covered stands at attention during the announcement of the creation of a new communal police in the town of Colonia Brasilia, Mexico, near the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, Sunday Feb. 24, 2012. The group called "Community System for Security and Justice-People's Union," who said they belong to 20 communities of the Acapuco-Coyuca de Benitez region, announced the creation of a new communal police to help combat the growing violence and insecurity caused by organized crime. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)The Associated Press

The rapid spread of vigilante-style community "self-defense" groups is drawing debate in Mexico, after the latest group popped up with suspiciously sophisticated weapons, printed T-shirts and clothing that doesn't reflect the usual mix of participants.

The new group of vigilantes is armed with some assault rifles, in addition to the mix of shotguns and single-shot rifles used by other similar groups that have appeared recently.

The group appeared this week in Tepalcatepec, in the western state of Michoacan.

A stubborn crime wave has caused groups of farmers in other towns to set up patrols and checkpoints, but they are usually raggedly-dressed farmers, unlike the better-dressed Tepalcatepec vigilantes.

Assistant Interior Secretary Eduardo Sanchez said Tuesday that the government was seeking to negotiate with the vigilante groups.