MORELIA, Mexico – The five community police officers kidnapped earlier this week in Aquila, an Indian town in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, were released early Wednesday by suspected Caballeros Templarios drug cartel members, a local official told EFE.
The officers, who are former members of a vigilante group created in 2013 to defend the town from the cartel, had been kidnapped early Sunday, Aquila Mayor Jose Luis Arteaga said.
The Nahuatl Indian community held “negotiations” with the suspected cartel members, who allowed the officers to return to their homes on the Pacific coast, the mayor said.
Arteaga, a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) denied that two other members of the community had been abducted while having talks with the Caballeros Templarios.
The five officers were kidnapped around 3:30 am Sunday at a checkpoint in the village of Tizupan by armed men wearing camouflage uniforms and traveling in pick-up trucks similar to those used by Mexican marines.
Tizupan is located along federal highway 200, which links the Pacific port cities of Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo.
Arteaga reported the crime to the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office.
The mayor blamed the abduction on a group of drug traffickers who belonged to the once-powerful Caballeros Templarios cartel.
People claiming to be holding the officers made three telephone calls demanding 21 assault rifles and the withdrawal of police from Tizupan as conditions for releasing the five men.
The Caballeros Templarios cartel was created in 2010 by former members of the Familia Michoacana organization.
The cartel was involved in trafficking both synthetic and natural drugs, hits, kidnappings and extortion rackets targeting business owners and transport companies in Michoacan.