It was a busy week for the Mexican Army in Tancitaro, a municipality of 30,000 inhabitants in western Michoacan located between Uruapan and Apatzingan. It is an area considered the heartland of the Caballeros Templarios, and before them La Familia Michoacana.
Tancitaro is also known as one of the most dangerous municipalities in the state.
This past Tuesday two young gunmen survived a confrontation with the Army troops in the small community of El Chilar.
The two men, 19 year old Luis Enrique Castillo "el Toro" and 24 year old Sergio Alberto Valencia "el Compas" were captured when the pickup they were travelling in crashed while attempting to flee after an exchange of gunfire with soldiers.
Three other gunmen were able to escape from the scene.
Two AK-47's, one .45 caliber pistol, a small amount of marijuana, ammunition and tactical gear were seized.
On Thursday, three gunmen were not so lucky after engaging in a firefight in downtown Tancitaro with Army soldiers on patrol.
State and Federal police and the Army are responsible for maintaining law and order in Tancitaro. In 2008 seven municipal police officers were attacked and killed by unknown gunmen and in 2010 all sixty municipal police officers were fired and the force disbanded.
In September 2010 the mayor of Tancitaro, Gustavo Sánchez Cervantes, and municipal councilman Rafael Equihua were stoned to death. The previous municipal government resigned after receiving death threats.
In Thursday's incident heavily armed gunmen traveling in three vehicles that included a Chevrolet pickup with California license plates met head on with an Army patrol on a street in the city center. An armed confrontation ensued that emptied Tancitaro's streets.
After the fighting was over three gunmen lay dead in their vehicles, and one soldier was also killed.
The dead soldier was identified as 23 year old Jaime Jesus Bello Aleman. The three dead gunmen were identified as Jorge Luis Quevedo Zúñiga, age 45, a Tancitaro resident and Felipe Flores González, age 48, also from Tancitaro. The third dead gunman was not identified.
Several gunmen escaped into the city streets. There was evidence that some may have been wounded in the fighting.
Soldiers recovered four AK-47's and one AR-15, 30 magazines and 1,500 rounds of ammunition.