MEXICO CITY – Mexican vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan have pledged not to enter more cities, municipal seats or other urban areas, authorities said.
They made those commitments in a meeting Friday in Apatzingan with the federally appointed commissioner for security and development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, the Government Secretariat said in a statement.
These militias will only be present in designated checkpoints, always working jointly with federal forces, and must receive permission from authorities before making “any movements whatsoever,” the statement read.
The “self-defense groups” also agreed to meet every Thursday with regional security chiefs and to appoint three individuals – Hipolito Mora, Estanislao Beltran and Jose Manuel Mireles – as their exclusive spokespersons.
“Federal and state authorities and the citizens’ groups will work in a coordinated and transparent fashion to restore order and tranquility to Michoacan,” the statement added.
This agreement comes after the vigilante groups had said they planned to expand their presence beyond the 20 Michoacan municipalities where they currently provide community policing.
Some members of the outfits even said they would move into Morelia, the state capital, although the federal government vehemently rejected the idea.
These groups of armed civilians began to emerge a year ago in the so-called Tierra Caliente region, which straddles the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states, to protect their communities from Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel.
But the federal government has stepped up its presence in Michoacan in recent weeks, deploying thousands of police and soldiers to bolster security and appointing Castillo to coordinate those actions.
Besides aiming to crush the Templarios, the Federal Police and army troops have sought to bring the militias under the formal control of the military.
Many of the Michoacan vigilantes have signed up for an army-controlled Rural Defense Corps.