Dozens of armed self-defence militia members entered the centre of Paracuaro, Mexico on Saturday and disarmed local police forces, in what they said was an attempt to free the community from the control of the Knights Templar organised crime group. One militiaman was killed during a short firefight with police, with no other casualties reported.
Members of the militia subsequently occupied the town hall and currently have taken about 15 municipal police agents prisoner.
There has been a rise in «auto defensa» armed groups taking over security roles in Mexican communities to fight organised crime since early last year. A member of a self-defence civilian group, explains their decision to join as coming out of frustration: «We lived in bondage, threatened by organised crime.» Reportedly, the self-defence movement has assumed policing control of some 68 municipalities in 13 states across Mexico.
President of the National Action Party (PAN), Gustavo Madero, called on Wednesday for the strengthening of state structures in order to «prevent the expansion of self-defence groups» in Mexico. According to local media reports, Michoachan state authorities have not yet responded to today’s events.