"autodefensas exhibited a deep knowledge of the countryside to locate The Templario leaders and fight them on their own ground."
It is a quieter course in Michoacán since the federal government decided to shift its anti-drug policy. However it should be noted that this change of direction would not have occurred if autodefensas had not pressured for the liberation of entire towns from under the control of Caballeros Templarios.
The promise of autodefensas groups to liberate all the municipalities in Michoacán from organized crime, combined with stance that this is an group of armed civilians willing to die in order to secure their liberation and security. This action forced the Peña Nieto government to take action. Up to then, the government had been taking no action against organized crime, and crimes against the population, while comfortable implementing the same strategy of military and police combat handed down by Felipe Calderón and which had already shown signs of failure.
The Government's agenda was to use autodefensas and then halt the spread of autodefensas groups
Autodefensas are groups made up of professionals, ranchers, agribusinesses and laborers, exhibited a deep knowledge of the countryside to locate Templarios leaders and fight them on their own ground. Their strategy was similar to that of the modern guerrilla, which attacks and advances, freeing territory.
Their success and social sympathy were seen as a serious threat by the federal government, which feared that their example might be replicated in other parts of the country where a similar situations of control by organized crime persists. Government strategists decided to use the power and knowledge of the autodefensas, use them on the frontline of the battle against The Templarios and accompany them with the presence of the Federal Police and the Army.
In plain English, they sent autodefensas in to do the dirty work. (While taking total credit for great strides)
Government publicly ignored autodefensas help in Chayo's capture
Dr. José Manuel Mireles, autodefensas leader and spokesperson, reports they were the ones who provided the information that Nazario Moreno, El Chayo, was alive and where he was operating, however the Peña government would not recognize it and claimed total credit in discovering the leaders location and his subsequent capture.
The self-defense groups were used by the federal government through an agreement which feigned to give them legality. Now that they are no longer useful, the government is putting them aside and accusing their leaders of being members of some criminal gang.
In a perverse game, Peña government envoys headed by Alfredo Castillo have taken advantage of the personal stories and internal divisions of the autodefensas groups to sap their strength.
Today some people doubt the legitimacy of this armed social movement, the only entity that has been capable of confronting a cartel head on and recovering vast territories that the criminals had under their control.
Autodefensas groups continue advancing in Michoacán. They already have a presence in one-third of the state. The government of Enrique Peña Nieto has unsuccessfully attempted disarm them.
However, by everything known indications are that it will be a long time before/if the government can succeed in bringing them down, because one of the causes that led to breakdown in Michoacán is still in place: the high corruption of the state authorities and the ongoing complicity with organized crime that many of them maintain.