Militia members.
Vigilantes stand at a checkpoint in Mugica near Apatzingan January 14, 2014. Reuters/Alan Ortega

Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s interior minister, wants self-defense militias in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacán to put down their guns, and on Monday the federal government sent in the army to take over public security duties. That day, the army engaged in a standoff with militia members who refused to submit to a disarmament, killing two. On Tuesday, Hipólito Mora, one of the most visible of a diverse cohort of militia leaders, told CNN that the armed groups had met with Michoacán governor Fausto Vallejo, who agreed to let the militias keep their weapons in exchange for collaboration in bringing Knights Templar drug cartel members to justice.

In the interview with Carmen Aristegui, Mora said that “in some form they’re going to allow us to continue patrolling our towns”, although he acknowledged that “security is in the hands of the government…we can support them and we will do that with some autodefensa members. We’re going to show them the places where leaders or members of the Knights Templar are thought to be.” Mora also indicated that the militia he heads, in the town of La Ruana, would not be putting down their arms until they believe the Knights Templar cartel had been disintegrated.

CDN Noticias reports that Servando Gómez (“La Tuta”), the leader of the cartel, has been located by the federal government, although his capture isn’t guaranteed: Mexican officials say he could manage to evade apprehension by utilizing caves in the mountains of Michoacán. They add that despite a thick ring of law enforcement around his whereabouts, sympathetic members of nearby communities could also aid in his escape.

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