Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Autodefensas: Dr. Mireles California hometown speaks about him

Saturday, November 23, 2013 |

Borderland Beat

This article is from the Modesto Bee.  Modesto is the northern California city Dr. Manuel Mireles and his family called home for a decade before returning to Michoacán.

This is the first American article I have seen that was a "go to" rather than gathering facts from afar...from the people who know him well.  I have included a foto of one of the "homemade" armor trucks autodefenzas use.  (below)

"In his free time, he and a daughter volunteered as translators for the Modesto branch of the American Red Cross, later translating first-aid booklets and other Red Cross materials for the Michoacán migrants in the region."...


TEPALCATEPEC, Mexico – Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles dons a white lab coat and attends to patients at a clinic during the day.

But during off hours, he has a second calling: chief of a ragtag band of armed vigilantes who are trying to keep gangsters out of the small city of Tepalcatepec.
After living a decade in Modesto, Mireles, 55, returned to this corner of Mexico’s Michoacán state in 2007, bringing his family with him.
His return was not easy. Drug-trafficking gangsters marauded across the land, and his hometown had grown unrecognizably violent.
“We used to have seven or eight executions every week,” Mireles said, and nearly every business and ranch was paying extortion fees to the dominant drug-trafficking crime gang, known as the Knights Templar.
So on Feb. 24, Mireles and a cabal of other disgruntled citizens took up arms, set up sandbag bunkers at the four entrances to the city and hung banners that said the Knights Templar gangsters would face the armed wrath of residents if they entered city limits.
“For eight months now, we’ve had no murders, no extortions, no rapes, no turf taxes, nothing,” Mireles said.
Mireles is now famous in these parts, known simply as “the doctor,” instantly recognizable with his shock of wavy graying hair, a bushy mustache, movie-star good looks and deep resonant voice.
He’s also a hero to many of the 400 families of Tepalcatepec migrants living in the Modesto area.
“He’s got the support of 100 percent of the community here,” said Salvador Andrade Mendoza, the head of the Casa Michoacán Federation in Modesto.
Mireles said his self-defense group, part of a network of armed citizen groups that over the past weekend captured the seventh of Michoacán's 113 townships, wasn’t looking for war with the Knights Templar. Rather, the groups just want to keep the gang away.
Mireles said Article 10 of Mexico’s Constitution permitted citizens to carry weapons “for their protection and legitimate defense,” even though some of the assault rifles the self-defense groups carry are restricted to use by police and soldiers.
Since local police operate in tandem with organized crime, and state law agents are often in collusion as well, Mireles said the group had no option.
“It is a legitimate and legal movement,” he said. “We are not criminals. What we need is justice. We need to restore the rule of law to Michoacán.”
On a recent day, Mireles let a journalist accompany him to meetings with leaders of other municipal self-defense groups. While Mireles himself didn’t seem to carry a gun, many escorts carried weapons in a caravan of some 10 pickups and SUVs that sped along with blinking flashers. Some didn’t have license plates. But all carried placards on doors saying they were part of the self-defense forces.
The caravan sailed quickly through army checkpoints, indicating military tolerance, if not support, for the citizen groups.
Mireles couldn’t work in his profession when he lived in Modesto because his Mexican medical certificate isn’t valid in the United States. So he took odd jobs: breaking rocks, canning boneless chicken, making auto rims, harvesting almonds.
In his free time, he and a daughter volunteered as translators for the Modesto branch of the American Red Cross, later translating first-aid booklets and other Red Cross materials for the Michoacán migrants in the region.
In 2007, Mireles brought his family back home, partly so that his eldest son, Jose Mireles Valencia, who’s now 26, could attend medical school.
The son’s voice quivered a bit as he recounted how his father had gathered the family together earlier this year to announce that he’d form the self-defense group, alerting them to the dangers inherent in taking up arms.
“He said he loved us and he was proud of us. Because I’m the eldest, he asked me to take care of the others when the time comes,” the son said.
The son is nowhere near as confident as the father that the self-defense groups will succeed in keeping well-financed, heavily armed drug gangs at bay.
“The chances of another cartel taking over here are 90 percent,” said the son, speaking in the English he learned at Evelyn Hanshaw Middle School and Modesto High School. “Emphasize this: It’s a temporary peace. In two years, we’ll be put back in the same or a worse situation.”
“My children don’t want to be here,” the elder Mireles acknowledged.
The threats are real, he said, and lots of corruption in the city has been exposed. When the self-defense group started up, Mireles said, he discovered that 124 police officers were on city payrolls, when in reality only 22 officers were employed. The rest was featherbedding, profits raked off by corrupt officials. The city’s mayor, Guillermo Valencia, fled and hasn’t returned.
Mireles said his experience in California had showed him that good government was possible in his homeland.
“I learned that you live better if you have better elected officials. In the United States, the police are honest, the tax system is not corrupt. Here, it is all crap,” he said.
Asked why he stayed on, Mireles said, “There’s a bit of patriotism in some people, and in me it is strong.”


The spirit of Don Alejo lives in this viejito.  Fighting against CT in Michoacán

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44 Borderland Beat Comments:

miki vilen said...

Alright you fucken caballeros rateros , now it on , u guys are fuck , thia man is gonna wipe you guys out , this is one badassmother fucker

Anonymous said...

Chivis why did not you add the video i told you about heyyy it was a and is a very good one you should know thay

Chivis said...

Trust me I want to, just based on your description alone. I could not get it to play, so I sent it to Vato, and he couldn't either. Can you send me a link to it directly to FB or YT? If we can get it to play we will translate it. The one we have is directly from the station....but nada....

Anonymous said...

Has anybody noticed el chapo has a nose mouth ...his nose drips to his mouth

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go fight narcos like a superhero from now on narcos beware of "la resortera" chapo I'm coming for you "bam homey"

Anonymous said...

Bamm homey

Anonymous said...

viva mireles.

Anonymous said...

See Mexico you can do it. Heros like Don Alejo and Dr. Mireles are what Mexico can do. God Blesss these Heros. I pray Mexico returns to the people.

Anonymous said...

Don Alejo and Dr. Mireles true heros of Mexico. Mexico take your country back. You have a leader. i would be proud meet the Doctor.

Anonymous said...

What cartel owns la piedad? Is it ct also chivis?

Anonymous said...

jajajajaj those old dudes holding aks jajaj....these guys are gonna be slaughtered

Anonymous said...

so they "take over other plazas", drive in convoys, do NOT use placas, carry illegal weapons, drive with fake wanna-be police lights.....the list goes on! Im just saying the more I learn about these guys, the more skeptical I am and I believe they are just like all the other groups. Now in fairness, maybe they started out with good intentions, but my question is why did they not stop when they had expelled all the "criminals" from their own town? Why keep going and trying to "take" other towns? Tell me this "movement" is not shady?

Anonymous said...

"A bushy mustache, movie star good looks" .. this had me rolling on the floor laughing!! But I respect "the doctor". Viva el senor Mireles!!

Anonymous said...

Jajajaja those coward meth heads and gay clowns of CT holding guns jajaja...these CT assholes are gonna get slaughtered.

Anonymous said...

I'd been wondering to what extent the grupos de autodefensa were influenced by thinking picked up in the U.S.

Of course, the irony is that the weird cult-like ideology of the CT was also picked up in the US, pulled selectively from US-based Christian Evangelicals, like John Eldredge in his book "Wild at Heart."

Anonymous said...

Well Chivis I guess we now know the good Doctor probably speaks better english and spanish than most of us on top of all his talents. Good luck doctor. Trust only your closest and make sure they are armed. Vaya con Dios- return Mexico to the good in Mexico and we will build you a beautiful statue. I promise.

Anonymous said...

I would be proud to bow to the doctor! And work long hours. It will take a country to fix Mexico- one state at a time. Get rid of cartels and corruption. One step at a time- never stopping until municipalities, states, all fuction honestly together for a better future for Mexico! Viva Mexico!

Anonymous said...

"Deep resonant voice" hahaha that made me laugh. I respect the doctor a lot, but that statement is not true.

Anonymous said...

Mas engaging comments please, Chivis!

Anonymous said...

He's an honorary administrator by now or should be

Anonymous said...

"those old dudes holding aks jajaj....these guys are gonna be slaughtered"

it is possible some of them will die. but the point is that they are out there defending their own community, and they are willing to risk bullets to do it. you have to admire their spirit. Very likely a lot of CT's will die before those old men are gone. they are setting an example for all of Mexico!

Anonymous said...

Heyy chivis the video is now on youtube its title is autpdefensas al municipio de tancitaro en michoacan programas de punto de partida noticieros televisa

Beto ayala said...

They are fighting a proxy war for CJNG, while flying a white flag of peace Dr. Mireles is being financed and armed by nothing more than common criminals interested in disrupting lucrative methamphetamine production in which they themselves wish to take over.

Chivis said...

@5:07

Damn that was emotional for me, I was so angry at the blockade and then tears flowed when seeing the family of the killed autodefensa.

I am having major issues with my internet connection, so I will try to get someone to translated, it is only 10 minutes that isn't bad.

thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Your wellcome chivis i told you it was a good one , you can self defense members getting on a battle with the cts and all of the sel defense leaders were there. Not like cts coward leaders who never get dirty


Anonymous said...

You two guys want cts to control michoacan? is that what you two motherfuckers are sugestting either you are cts or have relatives, friends who are cts well let me tell you something your moron cts organization is doomed to be destroyed its just a mother of time

Anonymous said...

"They are fighting a proxy war for CJNG, while flying a white flag of peace"

It is important to prove or disprove this allegation.
Facts people. Establish facts.

Anonymous said...

8:20 the cabelleras kagadas are on the run because the movement is expanding,the federales are getting ready to come and fight the CP,not their allies.
the CP must expand AND take other towns and all of the state,and all of Mexico needs to follow the example of the CP and kick the corrupt government and their sicario- friends,there are not enough trees left in Mexico to hang these motnerfuckers from, but there are enough rocks to kill them with. A pedradas!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lets get a million letters to the mexican consuls,to make sure they know where the people stand...

Anonymous said...

for people on the outside - it is difficult to know exactly what is happening on the ground in Tepalcatepec. I understand the suspicious nature of some readers here, I really do. Therefore, it would help to have more proof that the autodefensa movement of Dr Manuel is exactly what it says it is. But at the same time, it is not fair to throw dirt at them if they are genuine. Therefore, do not post your own theories that they support CNJG unless you are sure and you ahve evidence. So many outside people complain that Mexicans are doing nothing about their own problems. And now an autodefensa group rises up to DO SOMETHING, and then people try to shoot the whole idea down in flames with skepticism. If you have doubts, GO THERE and see for yourself. Report back what you find. Don't undermine a genuine attempt at democracry - if that's what is is!! Get more facts people, before you spout off your mouths..

Anonymous said...

54 comunitros were arrested back a few months ago for being part of cjng it was all over the news oye u should try going to the tows they took over and see for ur self if they let u pass those towns are on lock down mireles is not that difrent from la tuta

Anonymous said...

november 25 at 12:40

such bullshit man, people like you are scum of the earth.
they were arrested to be disarmed, it was a ploy and they were released in hours. only 3 or 4 were kept a couple days longer because their weapons were illegal types, the other 50 people had legal weapons and they had to be released.

Anonymous said...

Look people I'm not on anybodys side but these cps are ex caballeros ex cristaleros no son jente del pueblo I'm here living this situation and all the weapon cps have are eligal they starded with shot guns now they have crazy looking rifles and lots
of amo its all iligal how are the y getting this not from a gun store the only ones that manage this shit is the cartels for war like this one

Anonymous said...

Heyy man above me you are a cts huelepedos let me tell you something cts are doomed to be destroyed please understand that this war is nor for ever in mexico do you really think that one of the cartels will dominate and rule mexico at its will are you really that retarded usa will never do that even thoght usa help started and fueled this mess but they will not let it be so big to the point they take over you have to be reallg stupid if you think cts are going to exist forever

Anonymous said...

12:40 say what you may,the fucking tuta la puta has to go,all of the corrupt leadership governing the state,the autoctonous naco-oligarchs that boss around the familiar michoacana,the cabelleras kagadas,the authorities,and the people,have to go.
Dr mireles can be whatever he wants to be he is the man of the present,he does not need to have been a perfect saint ever.
Dr mireles is putting his ass on the line, now,with his community,for his community,and they accept his leadership
Thank God nobody is forcing you to accept the tuta's leadership,because you would be prying for Dr mireles to help...

Anonymous said...

"Dr mireles can be whatever he wants to be he is the man of the present,he does not need to have been a perfect saint ever.
Dr mireles is putting his ass on the line, now,with his community,for his community,and they accept his leadership"

let me say something. and this is important.
first, you are definitely right that Dr Mireles is putting his ass on the line. he is doing this in a major way. he is a target now for his enemies. so the man gets respect for his courage.

BUT it is not true that he can just choose any path that works. These autodefensas will live or die - based on their reputation. and that reputation is based solely on their leaders and what they stand for. their leaders must stand for what is right and honest. they must be above what the caterls are doing. if they lower their standards and bring themselves down to the gutter - then there is no hope for them. None! then the Mexican Gov't will come and disband them, and really you cannot blame the government at that stage.

Dr Mireles has to stand for what is right. No comprmise with any cartel, and no support from any cartel. Or otherwise his efforts are all for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Good post good words his gonna makem or breakm but were are all the weapons and amo coming from?

Anonymous said...

2:11 and so what,somebody will deal with that tomarra.
The task at hand is,stick it to the cabelleras kagadas,to Miguel Angel Gallegos,to his sicarios and their naco-achichincles...

Anonymous said...

9:51 you like me!
Sometimes not lowering your standards mean sure quicker defeat.
Picking fallen standards,on a permanent basis,as a way of life,that is certainly immoral and counterproductive.
If Jesus had not stopped lashing at the money changers,I wonder what would have been...
Enjoy the Merlot?

Anonymous said...

1:40 never mind...
When you are storming the stronghold,just make sure nobody pisses on the powder, and ONWARD HO!(that how it's said?)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
so they "take over other plazas", drive in convoys, do NOT use placas, carry illegal weapons, drive with fake wanna-be police lights.....the list goes on! Im just saying the more I learn about these guys, the more skeptical I am and I believe they are just like all the other groups. Now in fairness, maybe they started out with good intentions, but my question is why did they not stop when they had expelled all the "criminals" from their own town? Why keep going and trying to "take" other towns? Tell me this "movement" is not shady?

November 24, 2013 at 8:20 AM

expelled criminals? they are still there

take other towns? they are not taking other towns...they are helping them restore, bring back peace and safety...

Are you ignorant? oh gosh

Anonymous said...

Si a Jesucristo le gritaron farsante,¿que podrás esperar de la gente ignorante?

Anonymous said...

Your the only ignorant here. Unless you live in michoacan you have no idea how things really are.

Anonymous said...

12:40 Pendejo u r such bullshit man! people like you are scum of the earth. They were arrested to be disarmed, it was a ploy and they were released in hours. only 3 or 4 were kept a couple days longer because their weapons were illegal types, the other 50 people had legal weapons and they had to be released.

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