A prominent vigilante leader in the western Mexican state of Michoacan was arrested in connection with two murders, prosecutors said.
Hipolito Mora, the leader of a vigilante group formed more than a year ago in the town of La Ruana to fight the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel, was arrested Tuesday night "for his probable responsibility in the role of co-participant in the murders" of Rafael Sanchez Moreno and his driver, Jose Luis Torres Castañeda, the Michoacan Attorney General's Office said in a statement.
The victims' burned bodies were found last Saturday in Buenavista, a town near La Ruana.
Sanchez Moreno had links to the vigilante group in Buenavista, but people in La Ruana suspected him of having ties to the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel.
Mora was arrested "as a result of different investigations and testimony from people in the municipality of Buenavista," the AG's office said.
La Ruana and Buenavista are in the Tierra Caliente region, which takes its name from the high temperatures in the area and straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.
The 58-year-old Mora, a lemon grower in La Ruana, formed the first community self-defense organization in the Tierra Caliente region on Feb. 24, 2013.
The region was largely under the control of the Caballeros Templarios cartel until the federal government deployed the security forces in the area earlier this year to fight crime.
Vigilante groups have spread across Michoacan, which has been plagued by drug-related violence blamed on the Caballeros Templarios.
The leader of the vigilante group in Buenavista, Luis Antonio Torres, accused Mora this week of involvement in the double-murder.
Mora was not arrested based on Torres's allegations but on "different testimony and evidence," officials told Efe.
The worst confrontation between vigilante groups since their formation occurred on Monday, when Torres's group tried to occupy La Ruana.
Hundreds of supporters of the two vigilante leaders faced off at the entrance to La Ruana.
Army troops and Federal Police officers were deployed in the town on Tuesday to maintain order and prevent an escalation of violence.
Over the weekend, soldiers killed Caballeros Templarios boss Nazario Moreno Gonzalez.
Moreno, known as "El Chayo" and reported killed in 2010, died in a shootout with soldiers on Sunday near Tumbiscatio, a city in Michoacan.
Los Caballeros Templarios, which deals in both synthetic and natural drugs, commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies in Michoacan.
The federal government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13 in an effort to end the wave of violence in the state. EFE