When the citizens in rural Michoacan were being extorted and terrorized by drug cartels in Michoacán and formed community self-defense groups in February 2013 as a reaction to the abuses from Los Caballeros Templarios (the Knights Templar drug cartel), local residents cheered.
After all, the Mexican government’s inability to ensure security for the local population left them defenseless to the abuses by the vicious and notorious members of the cartel who ruled the rural areas with impunity, often dispossessing the population of its goods, its lemon orchards and even their homes.
In response to the continued threat from the cartel and the inability of the government to protect them, a physician. Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, founded the self-defense groups of Michoacán and became their spokesman.
The government said in a press release that as a result of the operation, the state agents seized 68 firearms, 20 vehicles, cartridges, and clips. It is reported in the various Mexican media that Mireles arrived in Lázaro Cárdenas on Thursday accompanied by approximately 600 people and accused the Mexican federal government of “giving uniforms to criminals,” alluding to the former self-defense group members that authorities turned into state rural police officers.
Since the emergence of self-defense groups, the federal government of Mexico has stepped in and encouraged these armed civilians to formally join the “rural police force.” Earlier this year, Mireles opposed an agreement struck between the majority of self-defense groups and the federal government.
His criticisms cost him his post as the spokesman of the so-called community guards, a similar self-defense group.
In today's El Bravo newspaper from Matamoros, under the byline of the a national wire service, the charges were enlarged to include the possession of "drugs" among the 82 captured men.
To those familiar with the tactics of the Mexican government, the later charges – based upon the finding of a baggie of marihuana and cocaine among the 82 captives – smells suspiciously of a set up of the autodefensa leader. More than 20 hours after his capture, his attorney tweeted to the social networks that she had not been allowed to talk to her client being held in federal custody.
In video clips shown opn Mexican television, Mireles and members of the high command are seen blindfolded as they are put aboard military helicopters for transport to different prisons across Mexico.
The only crime that Mireles appears to have committed is to defend his community after the Mexican government failed to guarantee their safety and physical integrity. Now the trumped-up charges of delitos contra la salud against Mireles have been leveled, it is almost a certainty that he will linger many years behind bars for the simple act of defending his home and family.
The world is watching Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and his handling of this matter. Should Mireles become the victim of some "accident" while in government custody, there might be hell to pay in the long-suffering Michoacan countryside.