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Originally published November 26, 2013 at 9:24 PM | Page modified November 27, 2013 at 5:46 AM

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Family seeks release of Renton woman detained in Mexico

A Renton woman who leads a vigilante police force in Mexico has been held in that country for three months on kidnapping allegations.

The Associated Press

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The family of a Renton woman who leads a vigilante police force in Mexico has enlisted a Seattle human-rights group to help push for her release after three months in custody on kidnapping allegations.

Nestora Salgado, a U.S. citizen, was arrested Aug. 21 in the state of Guerrero, where she had been leading a vigilante group targeting police corruption and drug-cartel violence.

Under state law, indigenous communities such as her hometown of Olinala are allowed to form such forces.

“They have no real case against her,” her daughter, Grisel Rodriguez, said. “We’re hoping that because this is a political case, that with a little bit of political pressure from here they will release her.”

The family has enlisted the help of the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law, which filed a petition for her release Monday with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, based in Geneva. The group claims Salgado is being held because she opposed government corruption drug-cartel violence.

Salgado, 41, has been accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teen girls on suspicion of drug dealing, and of a town official for allegedly trying to steal a cow at the scene of a double killing. According to the petition, the cow belonged to the victims.

The Guerrero state government said after the arrest that authorities had received complaints from the families of six kidnapping victims, including three minors, and that ransom had been demanded. The investigators said they obtained a warrant for the arrest of Salgado and that her rights were being protected.

Salgado grew up in Olinala, a mountainous town of farmers and artisans. She moved to the U.S. when she was about 20, settling in the Seattle area and working as a waitress and cleaning apartments, her daughter said. Her husband, Jose Luis Avila, has worked in construction.

Beginning in 2000, Salgado began returning to her hometown a month or two at a time, bringing blankets, clothes, toys and other donations, Rodriguez said. Each time, more people in the impoverished community asked her for help.

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