Hurricane Odile tore through northwest Mexico this week, leaving 239,000 people without electricity and causing an estimated $1billion worth of damages in the the Los Cabos region of the Baja California peninsula.
The natural disaster prompted some desperate Mexicans to turn on one another as they struggled to find food and grab what they could get, turning some areas in chaotic scenes fit for a Hollywood dystopian flick.
Looting broke out in several neighborhoods of San José de Los Cabos after the hurricane pounded the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, damaging water-purification plants and disrupting supply lines for food and water in this popular tourist destination.
Looting was not limited to basic supplies. Non-essential items such as TVs, microwaves and liquor were also plundered from department stores, and rumors surfaced of the existence of commando groups hitting people’s homes, leading leading businessmen to form vigilante groups to protect their properties.
The vigilantes armed themselves with rocks, sticks, and the odd rifle, patrolling neighborhoods at night and erecting barricades to control traffic in San Jose.
The Baja California Sur government denied the existence of the vigilante groups. In a statement issued on Friday, officials said the citizen groups are limiting their activities to patrolling their neighborhoods to inform police and soldiers of any irregularities.
But pictures of armed men outside stores, and footage gathered by journalists who’ve made it to Los Cabos, suggest there’s more to it than that. See the video above for more.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.