Local vigilantes arrested police in Paracuaro in south-west Mexico
© AP
Detained: Local vigilantes arrested police in Paracuaro in south-west Mexico yesterday as they seized back control of the town from the Knights Templar drugs gang
Hundreds of armed vigilantes stormed a Mexican town and arrested federal police in the latest bloody battle between residents, criminal gangs, and the police locals say are in league with the gang members.

Around 600 members of local 'autodefensas', or self-defence groups, stormed Paracuaro in the troubled Michoacan state yesterday in an attempt to seize control of the town back from the feared Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel.

The battle was the latest in a long-running war between the drugs gang in Mexico's south-west and local residents who say state and federal police are not protecting them.

Police officers are forced to surrender their weapons
© AP
Police officers are forced to surrender their weapons to armed vigilantes in Paracuaro yesterday after the group seized control
Guerrero state's Public Safety System
© AP
Members of Guerrero state's Public Safety System marched yesterday in honour of their first anniversary - their region is a centre for drugs production
Small groups of local vigilantes took up arms and joined forces to storm Paracuaro, headquarters of the Knights Templar gang, where they arrested police officers and seized control of the town in a blaze of gunfire.

They drove into the town in black armoured vehicles shouting 'Don't be frightened, we are vigilantes', before expelling drugs traffickers, whom they accuse of kidnapping people and bribing them to make money. Several gun battles were reported, leaving at least one dead.

Police officers, whom the vigilantes accuse of being in league with the cash-rich drug gangs, were rounded up by machine-gun toting locals, along with others suspected of associating with gang members, and a checkpoint was set up at the entrance to Paracuaro.

On the highway leading to Paracuaro, traffic was stopped after a bus was set ablaze, allegedly by gang members.
bus was set alight, allegedly by gang members
© DailyMail
Burnt out: Traffic on the highway outside Paracuaro came to a standstill yesterday after a bus was set alight, allegedly by gang members
Michoacan has been rocked by repeated explosions of civil unrest since February last year, as vigilante groups have sprung up in communities where people say they are not being protected from drugs trafficking gangs.

Over in the neighbouring state of Guerrero, which produces half of Mexico's heroin and is riddled with drugs gangs, members of the Public Safety System, or the Guerrero community police, marched yesterday to commemorate the first anniversary of their foundation in Ayutla de los Libres.

 Local vigilantes armed themselves to take control of Paracuaro back
© Reuters
Local vigilantes armed themselves to take control of Paracuaro back - they accuse police of being in league with the gangs and say they have to protect themselves
In neighbouring Guerrero state yesterday, members of the Public Safety System
© Reuters
In neighbouring Guerrero state yesterday, members of the Public Safety System (a community police organisation) marched in honour of their first anniversary
Bloody battle for control: A vigilante aims his weapon after storming into Paracuaro yesterday - one man was reported dead in the gun battles that ensued

plane crashed in western Mexico
© AP

Smash: This plane crashed in western Mexico yesterday, killing one man and injuring four others including vigilante group leader, Dr Jose Manuel Mireles
Insecurity dominates the lives of millions of Mexicans, for whom taking the law into their own hands has become the only option. Drugs cartels make millions of dollars producing and selling drugs, so the land where they produce opium poppies and marijuana is highly prized and often fought over.

Meanwhile yesterday an outspoken doctor who leads a vigilante group was injured when his plane crashed in western Mexico, killing one man.

Dr Jose Manuel Mireles suffered a dislocated jaw and head injuries after his plane crashed near the town of La Huacana yesterday.