By “El Huaso” for Borderland Beat

26 civilians were arrested last week in La Ruana, Michoacán for supposed links to the CJNG. Days later, a Federal Judge dismissed all charges and ordered their release, citing a lack of evidence. 

Timeline of events

September 10 

A group of men attempted to hold a meeting in the central plaza of  Felipe Carrillo Puerto, also known as “La Ruana” in Michoacán state. Without the priests wishes, the men rang the local parish bells to call the town together to rise up against Los Viagras. During the gathering, a drone-deployed IED exploded nearby. 

That evening, three armed men, allegedly members of Los Viagras, were arrested nearby in relation to the drone attack. Infobae identified them as José Luis “N”, alias “El Chango”; Luis Alberto “N”, alias “El Chivo”; and Jesús “N”, alias “El Chamán”, and reported that they work as gunmen for Heladio Cisneros Meneras alias “La Sirena”, reported to be a boss of Los Viagras, and accused of killing autodefensa leader Hipolito Mora.

According to Guadalupe Mora, in an interview with Proceso, the men were not armed.

El Universal however reported the men were not only armed, but were affiliated with CJNG.

September 16

The Secretary of Public Security of Michoacán announced they had captured 26 armed civilians, 20 men and six women in the center of La Ruana in possession of 15 rifles, two pistols, tactical vests, and a large amount of ammunition. A source in the Attorney General’s Office told EFE Noticias that they were being investigated for having links to the CJNG.

Detained civilians awaiting transport. Images: @TamaulipasI

According to N Mas+, La Ruana locals attempted to stop their transport out of the municipality. Security forces deployed tear gas to stop the locals. A post on the SSPC Twitter/X account showed many AR-15 rifles as well as the arrested being flown to Morelia, the state capital.

September 19

Three days later, a Federal judge ordered their release citing a lack of evidence that they were carrying firearms at the time of arrest, and argued their arrest was illegal. They were released that night and returned to their homes, reported Milenio.

Sources: Noventa Grados 7/19/23, El Universal 9/10/23, N Mas Noticias 9/16/23, El Financiero 9/16/23, @TamaulipasI 9/18/23, Milenio 9/19/23, La Voz de Michoacan 9/19/23, Animal Politico 9/20/23