For years the farmers of the Mexican state Guerrero have been living in fear. Stores were closing early and people stayed locked inside their houses when dusk fell. In the surrounding areas criminal groups and cartels have been growing stronger in recent years, leaving everyone affected. Extortions of a couple of hundred dollars, to kidnappings with extremely high ransoms have become more and more common. The targets of these crimes are often the young. For the villagers, who make a living mainly on farming, the sums are usually impossible to pay. Some manage to borrow the money and place themselves in deep dept. For others it ends worse.   Eventually people had enough. The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla. Ranging from eighteen to eighty years old, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. An organized movement, by many called the Vigilantes, started to grow. Along the narrow mountain roads checkpoints were set up. To avoid retaliation, the vigilantes wear masks. IDs are checked and cars are searched for weapons and drugs.   Today, life is slowly returning to normal. What used to be incredibly dangerous roads are now running local bus lines. The shops are open late and children are playing basketball in the streetlights. But above all, the people are no longer afraid.
       
     
 Church plays an important role in the small mountain communities. Here the people find   comfort in an otherwise unsafe environment.
       
     
 A group of vigilantes are patrolling the small town of El Cortijo.
       
     
 The fear of kidnappings and murder has been haunting the inhabitants in the area for years.
       
     
 The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla de los Libros. Ranging from eighteen to eighty year olds, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. 
       
     
 Leonarda Guttierez sits in her kitchen by her family portraits. The presence of the gangs made her nights sleepless.  – I was afraid day and night. Now I am hoping for a brighter future for my loved ones.
       
     
 Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.
       
     
 Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.
       
     
 In Ayutla de los Libres daily life is starting to return.
       
     
 Like most of the residents around Ayutla de los Libros, Maria lived in constant fear before the vigilantes took control. She received several kidnapping threats against her daughter and was repeatedly forced to pay the gangs.
       
     
 A new load of coffins arrive in Ayutla de los Libros.
       
     
 – I am not afraid. Many of my friends are here, I am not alone, says Jorgé, 24, who recently joined the vigilantes. 
       
     
 A group of vigilantes are going through the trunk of a taxi.
       
     
 On the small roads checkpoints have been set up.
       
     
 A funeral vigil is being held in Ayutla de los Libres. Since the vigilantes took control of the area, more people stay out in the evening.
       
     
 For years the farmers of the Mexican state Guerrero have been living in fear. Stores were closing early and people stayed locked inside their houses when dusk fell. In the surrounding areas criminal groups and cartels have been growing stronger in recent years, leaving everyone affected. Extortions of a couple of hundred dollars, to kidnappings with extremely high ransoms have become more and more common. The targets of these crimes are often the young. For the villagers, who make a living mainly on farming, the sums are usually impossible to pay. Some manage to borrow the money and place themselves in deep dept. For others it ends worse.   Eventually people had enough. The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla. Ranging from eighteen to eighty years old, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. An organized movement, by many called the Vigilantes, started to grow. Along the narrow mountain roads checkpoints were set up. To avoid retaliation, the vigilantes wear masks. IDs are checked and cars are searched for weapons and drugs.   Today, life is slowly returning to normal. What used to be incredibly dangerous roads are now running local bus lines. The shops are open late and children are playing basketball in the streetlights. But above all, the people are no longer afraid.
       
     

For years the farmers of the Mexican state Guerrero have been living in fear. Stores were closing early and people stayed locked inside their houses when dusk fell. In the surrounding areas criminal groups and cartels have been growing stronger in recent years, leaving everyone affected. Extortions of a couple of hundred dollars, to kidnappings with extremely high ransoms have become more and more common. The targets of these crimes are often the young. For the villagers, who make a living mainly on farming, the sums are usually impossible to pay. Some manage to borrow the money and place themselves in deep dept. For others it ends worse. 

Eventually people had enough. The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla. Ranging from eighteen to eighty years old, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. An organized movement, by many called the Vigilantes, started to grow. Along the narrow mountain roads checkpoints were set up. To avoid retaliation, the vigilantes wear masks. IDs are checked and cars are searched for weapons and drugs. 

Today, life is slowly returning to normal. What used to be incredibly dangerous roads are now running local bus lines. The shops are open late and children are playing basketball in the streetlights. But above all, the people are no longer afraid.

 Church plays an important role in the small mountain communities. Here the people find   comfort in an otherwise unsafe environment.
       
     

Church plays an important role in the small mountain communities. Here the people find comfort in an otherwise unsafe environment.

 A group of vigilantes are patrolling the small town of El Cortijo.
       
     

A group of vigilantes are patrolling the small town of El Cortijo.

 The fear of kidnappings and murder has been haunting the inhabitants in the area for years.
       
     

The fear of kidnappings and murder has been haunting the inhabitants in the area for years.

 The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla de los Libros. Ranging from eighteen to eighty year olds, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. 
       
     

The escalating violence and the lack of faith in the authorities made thousands of people gather in the little town of Ayutla de los Libros. Ranging from eighteen to eighty year olds, they armed themselves with what they had - rifles, machetes, pistols and sticks. 

 Leonarda Guttierez sits in her kitchen by her family portraits. The presence of the gangs made her nights sleepless.  – I was afraid day and night. Now I am hoping for a brighter future for my loved ones.
       
     

Leonarda Guttierez sits in her kitchen by her family portraits. The presence of the gangs made her nights sleepless. 
– I was afraid day and night. Now I am hoping for a brighter future for my loved ones.

 Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.
       
     

Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.

 Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.
       
     

Two armed men have been seen in the hills and a group of vigilantes, or auto defensas, embark on a hunt. Only eight days earlier a gang member were shot dead by the same people.

 In Ayutla de los Libres daily life is starting to return.
       
     

In Ayutla de los Libres daily life is starting to return.

 Like most of the residents around Ayutla de los Libros, Maria lived in constant fear before the vigilantes took control. She received several kidnapping threats against her daughter and was repeatedly forced to pay the gangs.
       
     

Like most of the residents around Ayutla de los Libros, Maria lived in constant fear before the vigilantes took control. She received several kidnapping threats against her daughter and was repeatedly forced to pay the gangs.

 A new load of coffins arrive in Ayutla de los Libros.
       
     

A new load of coffins arrive in Ayutla de los Libros.

 – I am not afraid. Many of my friends are here, I am not alone, says Jorgé, 24, who recently joined the vigilantes. 
       
     

– I am not afraid. Many of my friends are here, I am not alone, says Jorgé, 24, who recently joined the vigilantes. 

 A group of vigilantes are going through the trunk of a taxi.
       
     

A group of vigilantes are going through the trunk of a taxi.

 On the small roads checkpoints have been set up.
       
     

On the small roads checkpoints have been set up.

 A funeral vigil is being held in Ayutla de los Libres. Since the vigilantes took control of the area, more people stay out in the evening.
       
     

A funeral vigil is being held in Ayutla de los Libres. Since the vigilantes took control of the area, more people stay out in the evening.