Residents of several communities in a coastal area in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero blocked a highway to demand the release of a peasant who was arrested by marines.

The protest started Wednesday on the highway that links the Pacific resort city of Acapulco to the tourist town of Zihuatanejo.

Demonstrators blocked the road in Los Laureles, a community outside the city of Tecpan.

The protest continued into the night, with vehicles, including buses and trucks, backed up for miles on the highway, affecting both residents and tourists.

The highway was blocked to pressure officials into releasing Pablo Valle Torres, who was detained by marines on Wednesday, the peasants said.

Valle Torres, who is the biggest mango producer in the area, was not told the charges against him, protesters said.

Five people were arrested by the marines, but four of them were later released under pressure from residents, protesters said.

Protesters blocked the same highway in Tecpan for 30 hours last week to demand more security in the area.

Vigilante groups have appeared in recent months in several communities in Guerrero to fight gangs that stage kidnappings and run extortion rackets targeting residents.

Acapulco, one of Mexico's most famous tourist destinations, has been plagued by drug-related violence in recent years.

The Guerrero state government launched an operation in 2011 with the support of the federal government to step up security in areas frequented by foreign and domestic tourists.

"Operation Safe Guerrero" was launched on Oct. 6, 2011, in an effort to reduce the soaring crime rate in the state. EFE