MORELIA, Mexico – Five community police officers from the western Mexican town of Aquila were kidnapped by gunmen, authorities said Monday.
The town’s mayor, Jose Luis Arteaga, reported the crime to the Michoacan state Attorney General’s Office.
He attributed the abduction to a group of drug traffickers who belonged to the once-powerful Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) cartel.
The five officers were grabbed around 3:30 am Sunday at a police post in the settlement of Tizupan by armed men wearing camouflage uniforms and traveling in pick-up trucks similar to those used by the Mexican marines, Arteaga said.
Tizupan is located along federal highway 200, which links the Pacific port cities of Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo.
People claiming to be the captors have made two telephone calls demanding a withdrawal of police from Tizupan as a condition for releasing the five officers.
Michoacan’s public safety secretary, Juan Bernardo Corona, said that the marines, army and Federal Police denied having the five Aquila officers in custody.
Several human rights organizations called on the state and federal governments to mount an intensive search for the officers from Aquila, a Nahuatl indigenous community.
Those groups suggested marines might have abducted the officers and handed them over to organized crime – something that has happened before in Mexico.