Supporters of José Manuel Mireles Valverde, the imprisoned leader of the “community police” self-defense forces in Mexico’s violence-torn Michoacán state, are holding a protest mobilization to demand his release. The biggest rally so far was held Aug. 31 in Hermosillo, Sonora, where he is being held in a maximum-security prison.
Mireles was the one significant leader of the “community police” movement who refused to accept the government’s deal to bring the vigilante militias under the control of the official security forces. He was arrested by state and federal police on June 27 at the Michoacán pueblo of La Mira, and charged with narcotics and arms trafficking. His legal team says the evidence against him was fabricated, and that he was tortured while in detention.
In announcing the protest campaign, his lawyers and supporters said they would file complaints about his treatment with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and United Nations. They say that Mireles, a longtime activist who ran for Mexico’s senate with the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 2006, is really being punished for refusing to go along with the “community police” movement being integrated into official police and military forces themselves deeply co-opted by the drug cartels.