Mexican vigilante leader wounded in plane accident

Mexican vigilante leader wounded in plane accident

MORELIA - One person was killed and four wounded, including the leader of an anti-crime vigilante group, when the small plane in which they were traveling made a forced landing in western Mexican, officials said.

The plane had a mechanical problem while in flight and was forced to the ground late Saturday, Michoacan state prosecutor Marco Vinicio Aguilera told AFP.

Aboard the plane was Jose Manuel Mireles, the head of Self-Defence Council of Michoacan, a group of citizens that took up arms to defend themselves from drug gang violence.

Mireles hurt his head and dislocated his jaw, but he is "stable and conscious," a statement from the prosecutor's office said.

Also aboard the flight was a reporter from the Televisa TV network. Since early 2013 self-defence groups in Michoacan and Guerrero states, tired of the government's weak response to criminal violence, formed vigilante groups and took up arms.

Mireles is Mexico's highest-profile vigilante leader and one of the first to take up arms.

Aguilera said it was too early to say if the plane went down due to an attempt on Mireles's life.

Drug cartels - especially the Knights Templar, active in Michoacan - use extreme violence and have infiltrated municipal governments, reducing the state to what many consider chaos.

In May, the central government fought back by deploying thousands of soldiers in Michoacan, but violence has continued.

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