A community policing group in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero has released the last 20 people it had been holding "under guard" since Jan. 5 for allegedly committing crimes, a spokesman for the self-defense force told Efe.

Another group of prisoners of about the same size was released recently, "so that finishes the circle of everyone we had to let go," Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State, or UPOEG, leader Bruno Placido said.

The captives were released under an agreement with state and federal officials, and the self-defense group now expects that the individuals will be tried by the courts, Placido said.

UPOEG's work is not done and the group is now moving to the next stage in its mission, Placido said.

The group's leaders and state officials are examining ways to make UPOEG a legal community police force, Placido said.

UPOEG, whose members are armed and wear hoods, was created in January in the cities of Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos to protect the communities.

The self-defense group controlled access to the communities and policed them to fight a crime wave.

UPOEG detained 54 people suspected of committing different crimes, forcing officials to negotiate the individuals' release. EFE