November 27, 2013
MEXICO CITY – Residents of Tancitaro, a city in the western Mexican state of
Michoacan, armed themselves and killed nine members of the Caballeros Templarios
drug cartel, a self-defense group leader said.
The incident occurred on
Saturday after residents armed with rifles and pistols gathered in the city’s
plaza after hearing the bells at the main Catholic church pealing, Jose Manuel
Mireles, a physician and leader of one of the nine self-defense groups operating
in Michoacan, told Efe.
Armed civilians and members of the vigilante
groups in the nearby cities of Buenavista Tomatlan, Tepalcatapec and Coalcoman
provided support to the armed residents in Tancitaro.
Residents put up
barricades on the five main thoroughfares in Tancitaro to control
An armed group of vigilantes riding in four armored SUVs seized
from the cartel in February drove into El Pareo, a village in a forested area
that is a base for Los Caballeros Templarios, Mireles said.
of the vigilante group were seriously wounded when drug traffickers opened fire
with assault rifles and threw fragmentation grenades at the convoy, Mireles
The vigilantes took cover at an abandoned construction site and
repelled the attack, killing nine drug traffickers, Mireles
Tancitaro residents took over city hall and ordered the mayor to
leave, Michoacan Gov. Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, a member of the ruling
Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said in a
Self-defense groups are active in the cities of Aguililla,
Tepalcatepec, Buenavista, Coalcoman, Aquila, Los Reyes, Cheran, Paracho and
The vigilante groups were formed on Feb. 24 to deal with a
wave of murders, kidnappings, rapes and other crimes by drug
Mexico City’s Milenio newspaper reported earlier this month,
citing a government intelligence report, that the Caballeros Templarios were
paying 325 million pesos (nearly $25 million) in bribes annually to different
officials in Michoacan.
Los Caballeros Templarios, which was founded in
March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana cartel, deals in both
synthetic drugs and natural drugs.
The gang commits murders, stages
kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport
companies, affecting everyday life.
Michoacan’s forests and mountains are
used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and produce synthetic
Los Caballeros Templarios operates in Michoacan, Guanajuato,
Guerrero, Mexico, Colima, Chiapas, Tabasco, Morelos, Baja California and