Mexico arrests well-known vigilante leader

Mexican authorities have arrested Jose Manuel Mireles (pictured above), one of the most senior leaders of vigilante groups that have been battling drug gangs in the western state of Michoacan. Mireles was detained on Friday in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas with 82 other people who were allegedly carrying illegal firearms and who planned to travel to the state capital of Morelia. Michoacan has been ravaged by the Knights Templar drug cartel, which had controlled much of the state until an uprising by armed vigilantes that began early last year.

We are being persecuted by the Knights Templar, the army, the navy and all the police departments.

Jose Mireles, during an interview with AP in March

Dr Mireles was a co-founder of Michoacan’s vigilante or “self-defence” movement tasked with battling drug gangs. The government first appeared to tacitly accept the vigilante groups, but earlier this year authorities formed so-called rural police forces to incorporate the vigilantes and said anyone found carrying illegal weapons would be arrested.