Photo: Mexican militia guns
The Mexican government is preparing to disarm the self-defense groups who have been battling the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel in the western state of Michoacan since February 2013, officials said.
Authorities will also remove the barricades the militias have erected in several communities, according to the federal commissioner for Security and Comprehensive Development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo Cervantes.
He said the self-defense groups have been notified that they will have to surrender their guns, which include AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles.
The militias can safely stand down now that federal authorities have killed or captured the top leaders of the Templarios, Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s No. 2 official, said.
Militia members are ready to obey the law and cooperate with the government, spokesman Estanislao Beltran said.
Federal security forces launched a major operation in Michoacan nearly three months ago.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration decided to act amid escalating clashes between the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) and the militias, which arose to defend communities suffering under the cartel’s kidnapping and extortion rackets.
Reputed Templarios bosses Nazario Moreno Gonzalez and Enrique Plancarte Solis died last month in clashes with federal forces, while the latter’s uncle, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, is in custody.