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Mexico vigilante leader freed, may run for office

March 11, 2015

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A second former vigilante leader was released late Tuesday after being held on murder charges in a Dec. 16 clash that left 11 dead in the western state of Michoacan.

A state supreme court judge ordered the release of Luis Antonio Torres, “El Americano,” after ruling that his group of rural police were acting in self-defense and within their legal authority when they came under fire in the clash.

The former vigilante leader of the rival group in the confrontation, Hipolito Mora, was released on Monday along with about two dozen followers for the same reason. On Tuesday he said he may run for Congress.

Mora has said that his group came under fire by Torres’ group, something Torres had denied.

Both were founders of vigilante groups that emerged in 2013, as farmers and ranchers took up arms to fight extortion demands from the Knights Templar cartel, which controlled the violence-wracked state.

Both groups had converted into the Rural Forces, a new police force created by the federal government last year to get the vigilantes to register and put down illegal arms.

Mora’s son was among those who died.

Mora told local media Tuesday he is negotiating with a small opposition party to run for Congress in June elections.

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