Updated at: 06/05/2013 4:35 PM
(AP) MORELIA, Mexico - Three suspected drug-gang gunmen were killed in a confrontation with community self-defense squads and federal police in the mountains of western Mexico, the local mayor said Wednesday.
Mayor Justo Virgen Cerrillos in the town of Chinicuila said the suspects had been trying to steal residents’ cars to flee the recent offensive by federal forces and died in a gunbattle that began when they were confronted by vigilantes and police Tuesday.
Virgen Cerrillos said the suspects were among the cartel gunmen who have been hiding in the mountains since self-defense squads were formed by local residents earlier this year.
The federal government sent in thousands of soldiers and police in May to try to restore order after the Knights Templar drug cartel imposed a regime of extortion, kidnapping and killings in Michoacan.
But Virgen Cerrillos said peace has not returned to the region, which he said was in a "critical situation."
"Drug cartel members are hidden up in the mountains and caves," he said.
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