Photo: Mexican vigilantes
The leaders of the community self-defense groups in 20 cities in the western Mexican state of Michoacan have reached an agreement with federal officials to begin demobilizing, officials said.
The vigilantes also agreed to work with federal authorities to strengthen efforts to identify Caballeros Templarios drug cartel “targets,” the office of the federal commissioner for security and development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, told Efe.
Federal officials met with Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, who represented the vigilante groups, on Monday in Tazumbos, a community in the western state of Jalisco.
The leaders of the self-defense groups in the cities of Buenavista, Tancitaro, Los Reyes, Periban, Uruapan, Aguililla, Aquila, Chinicuila, Taretan, Patzcuaro, Coalcoman, Coahuayana, Lombardia, Ziracuaretiro, Apatzingan, Tepalcatepec, Churumuco, La Huacana, Mugica and Huetamo also attended the meeting.
Castillo and the vigilante leaders reached agreements covering legalization and coordination; demobilization; dialogue; compensation; legal solutions; and protection for leaders at the gathering, federal officials said.
One of the agreements calls for the creation of a rural state police force by May 11 that will be staffed by self-defense group members.
The first vigilante group was formed in Michoacan on Feb. 24, 2013, to fight the Caballeros Templarios cartel.
Vigilante groups operate in 30 of the state’s 113 cities.
The federal government deployed soldiers 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.
The cartel uses Michoacan’s 270 kilometers (168 miles) of coastline to smuggle chemical drug precursors for the production of synthetic drugs into Mexico.