On Monday, the Mexican government told their people that federal troops and police will respond to a region in which Mexican citizens took up firearms and declared their own war on a powerful drug cartel that made life unbearable for their families, according to a U.S. drug enforcement expert, Ronald Samporra.
Over the weekend, a group of armed citizens seized control of the town of Nueva Italia following a gunfight with alleged members of the drug cartel known as the Knights Templar, Samporra said.
What disturbed Mexico's federal government was the large band of civilians, estimated to be 100 armed men, had entered the town on Sunday morning and disarmed local police, according to press reports.
The people living in those mostly impoverished towns know that many of the local cops are being paid-off by the drug cartels, according to a previous Examiner news story.
"There are numerous cases in which the police offer protection or safe passage to the drug-trafficking crime gangs," said former police detective and drug enforcement agent Iris Aquino.
The civilian defense group was created by Mexicans who complain that the army and the police have failed to protect them from the unbridled violence emanating from the illegal drug trade, Aquino noted.
The Knights Templar, a relatively new addition to Mexico's organized crime, is in the midst of a battle against the New Generation cartel for control of all criminal activities in the region.
Civilians who call themselves self-defense groups or community police, have been active in several Mexican states, but the local authorities and the federal government in Mexico City -- as well as most of the news media -- have labeled them vigilantes.
In the Mexican State of Michoacan they've successfully seized control of several towns from the gangsters, according to Mexican law enforcement. A few days later they launched an all-out attack and drove the drug cartel members out of two towns, Paracuaro and Antunez.
Mexican reporters are saying the citizens taking the law -- and the guns -- into their own hands in Michoacan is a big disappointment for President Enrique Pena Nieto and his political career. When he was elected in 2013, he promised to provide Mexicans with a better economy and fewer killings and assaults.
More than 75,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the past six years and well over 200,000 have been injured by drug gangs and their associates.