Mexico forces in deadly clash with vigilantes
The vigilantes have surrounded the farming hub of Apatzingan, considered the command post of the Knights Templar, but had said they were not going into the main city at the army’s request.
Almost every store was closed in Apatzingan and there were few people on the street and little police presence.
Rumors circulate that some self-defense groups have been infiltrated by the New Generation cartel, which is reportedly fighting a turf war with the Knights Templar in the rich farming state that is a major producer of limes, avocados and mangos. The self-defense groups vehemently deny that.
In an odd twist to the story, the coordinator of the vigilantes, Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, appeared in a video on the Televisa network late Monday night saying the federal government is doing what the vigilantes want and urged them to heed Osorio Chong and return to their daily lives.
Mireles is recovering from an airplane crash earlier this month that broke his jaw and ribs. He is in an undisclosed location and has been under heavy Federal Police protection. Many criticized the government for not arresting him, as the vigilantes use high-caliber arms that are only legal for the military.
On Televisa, Mireles’ face was swollen and he spoke slowly, as if under sedation.
Later, in a second video, Mireles appeared more alert. He told reporters in the room that he is not advocating the laydown of arms until the entire state of Michoacan is free of organized crime and operating under the rule of law.
Associated Press writers E. Eduardo Castillo and Katherine Corcoran contributed to this report from Mexico City.