The governor of Mexico's troubled state of Michoacan vowed Wednesday to halt the spread of armed self-defense groups guarding against drug-related violence.
Since the beginning of the year the vigilante groups have emerged and taken control of several towns in Michoacan and other southern states. They argue that the authorities are doing nothing to stop violence among cartels and their kidnappings and extortion.
"If they try to enter any more towns they will be arrested," governor Fausto Vallejo told AFP.
The last intervention came last weekend when some 400 armed civilians in the towns of Buenavista and Tepalcatepec took over nearby Tancitaro's town hall and chased out police whom they accused of working with drug gangsters.
Self defense leaders say they next plan to take over another town, Los Reyes, with about 40,000 residents.
Drug cartels using extreme violence and infiltrating municipal governments have reduced Michoacan to what many consider chaos.
In May the central government fought back by deploying thousands of soldiers in the state. But violence has continued.