VICE News, 5/12/14
A year and three months after the surge in so-called autodefensas in the state of Michocan took up arms to destroy the Knights Templar Cartel — one of the most violent criminal groups in the country — a new rural police force has emerged after the militia agreed to register their weapons.
This past Saturday, in the town of Tepalcatepec — to the south of Michoacan, where the autodefensas first originated — about 450 members of the autodefensas who wished to continue in their towns with their security duties, received uniforms and weapons, so they can “continue the effort, legally,” Estanislao Beltrán, aka “Papá Pitufo (Papa Smurph)” — the current spokesperson for the Council of Autodefensas in Michoacan told VICE News.
President Enrique Peña Nieto had previously warned that after May 10, the possession of unregistered arms in any part of the state will not be permitted.
After the uniforms, boots, hats, pistols and AR-15 rifles were handed over to the new rural police force, “Papá Pitufo” delivered a message to the townsfolk who had collaborated by his side to meet the objective of destroying the Knights Templar Cartel, who have been targeting the residents, extorting, kidnapping and murdering them.
“Our goal is to create peace and tranquility within our communities — to bring peace to our families — with this movement we are heroes,” “Papa Pitufo” told VICE News.“As initiators of this movement, we have to set an example that the fight should have a specified duration and we don’t want it to get out of control, so that one day we can return to our normal jobs in tranquility,” he said.