A citizen vigilante group in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero lifted their blockade of a highway linking the port of Acapulco and the city of Zihuatanejo after reaching an agreement with state authorities, one of the group's leaders said.
Some 600 armed men from the town of Tecpan de Galeana, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Zihuatanejo, ended the roadblocks late Friday after the Guerrero state government pledged to combat organized crime and create a new police force to bolster security in the region.
Leopoldo Soberanis, one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Citizen Self-Protection Group, said the agreements were reached with Guerrero's interior secretary, Florentino Cruz, and public safety secretary, Sergio Lara.
In the talks, the parties agreed to carry out joint operations, particularly in the towns of El Porvenir and Santa Rosa, where the criminal gang Los Caballeros Templarios is most active.
The vigilante group had set up roadblocks on the Acapulco-Zihuatanejo highway in six districts of Tecpan de Galeana "to demand that the president (Enrique Peña Nieto) clear the area of organized crime," Soberanis told Efe Friday.
The leader complained that Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre Rivero had "ignored people's reports on the presence of the Caballeros Templarios" in several of the state's municipalities, adding that the crime gang's activities had affected tourism and local production.
"Caballeros Templarios are robbing locals of their mango and coconut crops. They're stealing trucks carrying livestock and collecting protection money from storekeepers, ranchers and business owners" in the area, Soberanis told Efe.
He also said they were suspected of being behind the deaths of 45 people and the disappearance of 19 others since the beginning of the year.
Los Caballeros Templarios, which emerged in March 2011 as an offshoot of La Familia Michoacana cartel, has been blamed for kidnappings, homicides and the extortion of storekeepers and truckers. EFE