Photo: Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde
The leader of one of the community self-defense groups in the western Mexican state of Michoacan was injured in a plane crash, whose cause is under investigation, prosecutors said Sunday.
Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde was injured when the small plane went down on Saturday night.
Mireles is the leader of the vigilante group in the city of Tepalcatepec, where residents have banded together to defend themselves because they contend the authorities are incapable of protecting them from drug traffickers and other criminals.
Michoacan is one of the states most affected by drug-related violence in Mexico.
The Caballeros Templarios cartel has marijuana plantations and operates synthetic drug labs in the western state.
One person was killed and four others, including Mireles, were injured when the small plane made an emergency landing in La Huacana, a city in Michoacan.
Both state and federal prosecutors are investigating the accident, the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office said.
Mireles and the other injured people were flown to a hospital in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, in a Federal Police helicopter on Saturday night.
The plane crash happened hours after the vigilante group led by Mireles entered Paracuaro, a city in the Tierra Caliente region, which straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.
The vigilantes clashed with gunmen suspected of being on the payroll of Los Caballeros Templarios, leaving a self-defense group member dead, security officials said.
The self-defense group members disarmed police in Paracuaro and formed a security council to protect the city.
Vigilante groups now control 13 cities and a community in Michoacan.
Some Mexican analysts say Michoacan is close to becoming a failed state because some areas are ungovernable due to the presence of drug traffickers and the emergence of vigilante groups.