An Indian community in western Mexico whose area is being encroached by drug cartels is not standing down.

Santa Maria Urapicho, a Purepecha Indian community in western Mexico, is arming itself and is on alert to deal with threats from suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang, an Indian leader said.

Gunmen operating in the area accuse the Indians of killing drug boss Mauricio Cuitlahuac Hernandez on Aug. 14 near Urapicho, which is in Michoacan state.

Los Caballeros Templarios is trying to gain control of Santa Maria Urapicho in light of the failure of the federal, state and municipal governments to take action, an Indian leader said on condition of anonymity.

"Our people have never allowed such as situation and now we are on the defensive to be on guard and avoid having anyone in this town harmed," the Indian leader said.

The residents of the community, which is in the city of Paracho, have armed themselves with pistols and rifles, controlled access to the town and set up barricades.

The Purepechas have quit their jobs in other communities to strengthen the defenses of Urapicho and prevent attacks by Los Caballeros Templarios, which is involved in illegal logging in the area.

"We are waiting for organizations in other places to take an interest in our problems, in our situation, they could give us a hand in whatever form possible," the Indian leader said.

Urapicho has less than 2,000 residents, who earn a living off the lumber industry and farming.

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