MEXICO CITY – The bodies of three men, including a minor, were found in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, prosecutors told Efe on Wednesday.
The three victims, who were presumably killed “with shots from firearms,” were found Tuesday night in a field in La Higuera Panda, a town outside the city of Chinicuila, a Michoacan Attorney General’s Office spokesman said.
Chinicuila is in the Tierra Caliente region, which straddles the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico, and has been plagued by a wave of drug-related violence.
The Tierra Caliente region became a marijuana growing center in the 1970s.
One of the unidentified victims is 14 or 15, while the others are between 30 and 35, the AG’s office spokesman said.
Some media outlets reported that the men were members of a vigilante group, but the AG’s office spokesman said there was no basis for reaching such a conclusion.
Vigilante groups have appeared in recent months in several Mexican states, with the largest number being reported in the southern state of Guerrero and in Michoacan.
Army troops, Federal Police officers and Michoacan AG’s office personnel participating in an operation discovered the bodies and five large-caliber firearms, the official said.
The federal government deployed army troops in Michoacan last month to restore order.
The Caballeros Templarios, La Familia Michoacana and Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartels have been fighting for control of Michoacan.
The gangs have been battling each other, as well as new armed vigilante groups, known as “community police forces,” in different cities.
The Caballeros Templarios gang was founded in March 2011 by former members of La Familia Michoacana and deals in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs.
The cartel has been fighting rival gangs for control of turf and smuggling routes in Guerrero and Michoacan states, both of which are on the Pacific.
Michoacan’s forests and mountains are used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and produce synthetic drugs.
Los Caballeros Templarios is suspected of carrying out murders, staging kidnappings and running extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies in Michoacan’s 113 municipalities, officials said.
French food giant Danone and Mexican pharmaceutical company Grupo Saba have decided to close their plants in Michoacan due to the high level of crime and move their operations to the less violent states of Queretaro and Jalisco, officials said.
Snack food company Sabritas, a unit of U.S. soft drinks and snack foods giant PepsiCo, was the target of several attacks in Michoacan last year.
The state has also been affected by a wave of protests staged by the CNTE teachers union and normal school students opposed to the educational reforms implemented in February by President Enrique Peña Nieto. EFE