CHILPANCINGO, Mexico – Five members of the UPOEG community self-defense group were ambushed and killed in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero by “heavily armed persons,” state police said.
The ambush occurred in the city of Juan R. Escudero as the vigilantes were returning from an operation, said the state police’s precinct chief in the town of Xalpatlahuac, Edith Baltazar.
The vigilantes left on Sunday for “the municipalities of Ayutla and Tecoanapa to conduct operations in the villages of Ocotito and Tierra Colorada, municipality of Juan R. Escudero,” Baltazar said in a statement.
The vigilantes’ convoy was traveling through the community of Villa Guerrero, located outside the city of Juan R. Escudero, when “they were ambushed by heavily armed persons, with the result that five community self-defense group members belonging to UPOEG, who were from different communities outside the cities of Tecoanapa and Ayutla, were killed,” Baltazar said.
“Meanwhile, communication was established with the community police command in Tecoanapa, who provided the same version to the precinct chief,” the Guerrero state police said.
Community police commanders in Tecoanapa said that “five dead bodies belonging to (members of) our organization (UPOEG) were brought in” on Monday afternoon.
“A group of six community police officers is missing,” Baltazar said.
UPOEG, whose members are armed, was created in January 2013 in the cities of Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos to protect residents.
The self-defense group controls access to the communities and polices them to fight drug traffickers and other criminals.