Two shootouts in the Mexican state of Michoacán have left 9 dead and led to the arrest of 44 suspects.
The first shootout took place near the city hall of the city of Apatzingan when federal police forces tried arrest a group of gunmen, Alfredo Castillo who is Michoacán’s National Security Commissioner said in a televised press conference.
As a result of that shootout one gunman died and authorities arrested 44 other gunmen and seized 23 vehicles, Castillo said.
As the Mexican military was moving the vehicles and the gunmen to a secure facility, a second group of gunmen attacked them in an effort to rescue those detained, the commissioner said.
“As a result of that confrontation eight individuals died,” Castillo said.
The infiltration of cartel members into some defense groups has also led to confusion since some the gunmen claimed to be part of a self-defense group however authorities have linked them to a cartel group called the Viagras.
In recent months Michoacán has been a hotspot for conflict between self-defense groups and the ruthless Knights Templar drug cartel which has been linked to ritual sacrifice and cannibalism.
Self-defense groups made an appearance in Michoacán after the Mexican government was not able to protect small rural towns from the Knights Templar. After much debate, the Mexican government allowed the groups to continue to exist but forced them to register as a legal entity, even then some of the founding members have found themselves in jail for various charges.
In early December two self-defense groups clashed with each other in another firefight that left 11 dead and resulted in the leaders of the two groups facing murder charges.