25 National Guardsmen in Mexico kidnapped for ransom to release captured gang members

After the arrest of 164 members of Pueblos Unidos, who were getting ready for another raid in the Uruapan area, Michoacán, some members of the National Guard (GN) were captured by community members associated with the criminal group. However, after a few hours, the uniformed men were released.

According to local media, community members from the municipality of Paracho detained nearly six National Guard patrols to demand the release of the 164 prisoners detained hours earlier in an operation.

In addition to the mass arrest of 164 alleged members of Pueblos Unidos, 142 heavy-caliber rifles, 44 handguns, and 28 vehicles, labeled with the name of the criminal organization, were seized.

In addition, prior to the operation, the Pátzcuaro-Lázaro Cárdenas highway was blocked on the Pátzcuaro-Uruapan stretch, in addition to the fire and attack on a gas station in Zitácuaro during the early hours of Saturday, where a vehicle was set on fire.

Due to this, the operation of the National Guard was mounted in coordination with the other levels of government on Saturday afternoon, although after the successful seizure, community members who are at the service of Pueblos Unidos detained some officers.

Security sources said that there would be no room for negotiation with those who broke the law and they set up a new operation, this time to rescue the detained National Guardsmen.

When the operation was about to begin and the federal and state forces were approaching the community of Quinceo, in Paracho, the community members chose to quickly release the National Guard elements.

The 25 soldiers who had been kidnapped for a few hours to demand the release of the 164 members of Pueblos Unidos were released.

The members of Pueblos Unidos remain in custody. They, together with the things seized, were transferred to the capital, Morelia, in an operation supervised by the commander of the XXI Military Zone, Francisco Javier Zubia González, as well as the commander of the 43rd Military Zone, Enrique Covarrubias López, the state coordinator of the National Guard, and the undersecretary of Police Operation, José Ortega Silva.

The Pueblos Unidos group emerged in 2020 in the municipality of Ario de Rosales as a community self-defense to combat organized crime in the area where law enforcement has failed. Federal authorities have indicated that the group was formed to dispute territory with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and is in fact a group of locals from crime organizations operating in Michoacán battling the Jalisco Cartel under the false pretense of concerned community members defending their communities.

Last May, the members of Pueblos Unidos were stopped in their intentions to expand towards Capula, Morelia. At that time they closed the Siglo XXI highway that connects with Cuitzeo and reached the Chapultepec booth, but they left without major consequences.

The Secretary of Public Security of Michoacán has already defined that these subjects belong to criminal cells that exert pressure on the inhabitants of the state. However, they justify that they are in favor of the population while they defend the territory to exploit it with extortion from agricultural producers, mostly avocado growers.

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