Mexican Army and Federal Police have swept into 27 cities in an attempt to re-establish government control from anti-drug cartel citizen militia forces that have formed in Tierra Cliente region of the Mexican state of Michoacán to drive out the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) drug Cartel.
The stated goal of the militias is fencing in Apatzingán the 4th largest city in the state, which is considered to be the Templars’ center of control.
The militias have given some ground to the Federal Police in recent days. On January 4, self-defense groups entered Parácuaro—another municipality near Apatzingán—and took control of the municipal building and blockading the access points to the city. Roughly a week later, the Federal Police negotiated entry into Parácuaro with the self-defense groups and citizens alike. It was agreed that the groups would not be required to disarm, but would hide their weapons, allowing the Federal Police to be in charge of patrolling the streets.
About 400 municipal police officers from the region were sent to the police-training center in Tlaxcala to undergo polygraph exams in an attempt to identify corrupt officers.
On January 12, they took the municipality of Nueva Italia, which they consider to be the Templars’ second most significant position, behind Apatzingán.
Some militia forces have said they would not continue their advancement into Apatzingán, but would maintain the positions they had taken to date. Other groups said they would not ceased their activities, and have vowed that they would not do so until the Templars’ leaders have been apprehended.