Members of Ostula's self-defense militia. Members of Ostula's self-defense militia.

Self-defense forces on alert in Michoacán

Caballeros Templarios still active, says militia leader

Self-defense groups in the coast and sierra regions of Michoacán are on high alert after a mayor was shot dead on Friday.

The reactivated community militia of Santa María Ostula, Aquila, and its counterparts in the municipalities of Chinicuila, Coahuayana and Tepalcatepec have reinforced their surveillance of the area in response to the reignited violence.

After Coalcomán Mayor José Misael González Fernández was gunned down on Friday, residents of neighboring Ostula declared that they will remain on alert as a preventive measure, “in case the municipal police department of Coalcomán requires our support.”

Ostula self-defense leader Cemeí Verdía Zepeda told the newspaper El Universal that González’s murder came as a blow, and noted it was the second such case in recent weeks.

“I can declare and I can bet that there are mayors under threat. Unfortunately there are many mayors that say they have no problems and I say, ‘No sir,’ but they can’t see the magnitude of the problem,” he said.

Verdía cited the case of the mayor of Aguililla, “who can’t live in his municipality because he’s afraid they’re going to kill him.”

The militia leader asserted that Michoacán has not cleaned itself up of criminals, and rejected the claim that only small groups remain, as state Attorney General José Martín Godoy Castro has declared.

“We must understand that organized crime does not forgive; they take innocent people, like the mayor of Paracho [who was killed earlier this month] and hundreds of other innocent citizens who have been assassinated . . . .”

Santa María Ostula

According to Verdía, the Caballeros Templarios gang is still active in Michoacán and controls several regions of the state.

“For a time I didn’t think I would see this kind of violence again in Michoacán after we decided to let the state government enforce the rule of law, but now I wonder if are they enforcing it.”

Governor Silvano Aureoles said yesterday the identify of the Coalcomán mayor’s killer remains unknown, but suggested that the motive was revenge because the victim had been a self-defense leader in the region.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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