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Francisco Espinosa, a Mexican cattle rancher turned vigilante, with one of his force's latest toys.

These 'monsters' are the home-built armored trucks deputized militias and drug cartels are using for battle. Read more»

'Clausurado' — closed down. This iron mine in Aguililla, in Mexico's Michoacan state, is one of many victims of the cartel fight.

A government offensive against the Knights Templar cartel has had the side effect of leaving thousands of miners out of work. Read more» 1

Mexican communal militia members keep guard in Michoacan state.

Armed residents are taking on the feared Zetas cartel in Tamaulipas state. One desperate town’s mayor applauds them. The vigilantes are rising after the Mexican government failed to stop the country from becoming a world kidnap capital, with more than 1,600 reported abductions in 2013. There have been more than 70,000 cartel-related killings since 2006. Read more»

Mexican communal militia members keep guard in Michoacan state.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday announced an “encouraging” 25 percent drop in violence and murders in the first four months of this year, after the discovery of dozens of bodies over the weekend. Read more»

Mexican communal militia members keep guard in Michoacan state.

The rise of thousands of vigilantes bearing assault rifles to rout a drug cartel in Michoacan state has presented President Enrique Peña Nieto with a policy nightmare. Attacking the vigilantes is unpopular and morally questionable. But tolerating these gun-wielding militias, who are manning checkpoints, detaining suspects and swarming on towns, shows a breakdown of the basic rule of law. Read more»

A fruit and vegetable vendor at a street market in Guadalajara, Mexico, on March 27, 2014.

The citrus fruit has become such a precious commodity that gangs of thieves are even stealing 'green gold' by the ton. Read more»

Enrique Peña Nieto

President Enrique Peña Nieto's security team has had an on-and-off relationship with crime-vanquishing vigilantes in the western state of Michoacan. Things look to be off once again. Perhaps way off. Read more»

The story of how vigilante militias took their western Mexican towns back from Knights Templar meth lords — for now. (with video) Read more»

The upcoming issue of Time features Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, on its cover. That has made the magazine more than a few new enemies. But it’s the accompanying front-page headline that really clinched the Mexicans’ ire: SAVING MEXICO. Read more»

Things are shifting quickly and bloodily in Mexico's western Michoacan state, as troops fight to disarm vigilante gangs intent on combating a dangerous drug cartel. A clash between soldiers and militiamen in one town Monday night ended with multiple deaths — reports vary on how many, but the government has confirmed two fatalities. That's apparently hardened the militia leaders' resolve to continue fighting. Read more»

Self-defense groups have surged in western Mexico's Michoacan state, fighting gangs in at least 70 communities in 25 municipalities. The Spanish text says 'Apatzingan is considered a bastion of the Knights Templar [gang].'

Hell seems ever more liable to bust loose in western Mexico’s Michoacan state, with heavily armed civilians squaring off against feared meth-producing gangsters who’ve had the run of rural hamlets and towns for years. The self-defense militias, at least some of them accused of connivance with criminal rivals of the local Knights Templar gang, have been working to encircle the Templar-dominated city of Apatzingan since last summer. Read more» 1

Vice Adm. Carlos Salazar and a bodyguard were shot dead Sunday when gunmen attacked their official navy car, which had been diverted by a protest blockade on a major toll road on to a secondary road in Michoacan. Read more»

A statue of Nazario Moreno as 'San Nazario,' onetime leader of La Familia Michoacana cartel who's venerated by the splinter gang, Knights Templar.

They worship their leader "San Nazario" like a saint and claim they need extortion cash to protect the unprotected. But for many, this cult-like, meth-pushing Mexican gang is a menace to society. Read more»

Mexican communal militia members keep guard in Michoacan state.

The county of Coalcoman, Michoacan became fed up with the cult-like Knights Templar gang's extorting, raping and killing. Here's what it took to stop it — for now. Read more»

The bodies of seven men were found in the sitting position in plastic chairs alongside a street in western Mexico. Authorities said the victims had been shot in the head and placed near a traffic circle in Uruapan, a city in Michoacan state. Read more»

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