Photo: Mexican Marines
Marines have arrested at least 155 people who were posing as vigilantes in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, state prosecutors said.
The suspects, who include four women, were detained late Friday and early Saturday in La Mira, a town outside the Pacific port city of Lazaro Cardenas, the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office said.
The suspects were apparently planning to set up barricades on streets in La Mira, the AG’s office said.
Marines, with the support of the Federal Police and members of registered vigilante groups, launched an operation to disarm and capture the suspects, the AG’s office said.
The suspects were taken in three buses to the AG’s office facility in Morelia, the state capital.
Marines, army troops, Federal Police officers and state police escorted the convoy.
The suspects are being investigated for their alleged links to the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel, officials said.
At least 150 assault rifles, various pistols and 25 late model SUVs were seized from the suspects, the AG’s office said.
The first vigilante group was formed in Michoacan on Feb. 24, 2013, to fight the Caballeros Templarios.
The federal government deployed military personnel and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13 in an effort to end the wave of drug-related violence in the state.
Federal security forces killed the Caballeros Templarios cartel’s two top leaders, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez and Enrique Plancarte Solis, in February and March, respectively.
Moreno and other members of the Familia Michoacana gang formed the Caballeros Templarios organization after he was reported killed by the government in 2010.
The Caballeros Templarios cartel, which deals in both synthetic and natural drugs, commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies in Michoacan.