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Confrontations Between Self-Defense and Criminal Groups in Mexico Leave Seven People Dead

By Dialogo
April 30, 2013

On April 28, several confrontations between self-defense groups, criminal organizations and security forces in Michoacán state, México, left at least seven people dead, authorities told AFP.

On that same day, Servando Gómez Martínez, aka “La Tuta,” drug cartel leader for Los Caballeros Templarios, published a video on YouTube, in which he rejects any involvement with self-defense groups, which he said are integrated by people who are “not from Michoacán” but from an adversary cartel called Jalisco Nueva Generación.

“In the last report, seven people were shot to death, but this number may increase; we will have to wait until the investigations are complete,” state government spokesman Julio Hernández said.

The shooting occurred in La Ruana village in the municipality of Buenavista, and in La Guadalupe, in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, where armed and masked men claimed they belonged to these communities. In February, the men announced the creation of what they called self-defense groups or community guards.

“This region experienced one of the worst days of confrontations where members of the so-called community guards and alleged criminals were involved,” said Guillermo Valencia, Mayor of Tepalcatepec.

Members of the Mexican Navy, who were on surveillance duty, participated in a confrontation against alleged criminals, Hernández said.

The shootings took place in an area called Tierra Caliente, with an increased presence of members from La Familia drug cartel, and its splinter group, Los Caballeros Templarios, according to the authorities.

The so-called self-defense groups emerged to the public last January in the Guerrero, Oaxaca and Michoacán states, in impoverished areas affected by the constant harassment of organized crime members, who extort, kidnap and murder before the eyes of an indifferent State, according to their declarations.