Mexico City: The founder of a Mexican self defense group was freed from custody on Monday after a judge cleared him and his followers of wrongdoing in a deadly December clash with a drug cartel.
Hipolito Mora and 26 followers were released from prison after a judge said they had acted in self defense during the December 16 firefight with members of the Knights Templar drug cartel, state prosecutor spokeswoman Magdalena Guzman Rosas told AFP.
The gunfight at Mora`s ranch in the western Michoacan state left his son and 10 Knights Templar members dead.
Mora, a lemon tree farmer, wearing a trademark cowboy hat, left the prison near the state capital Morelia with his followers, without commenting to waiting reporters.
He and the other defendants had surrendered to the authorities following after the shootout.
Their release came about a week after the arrest of Servando Gomez, a leader of the the Knights Templar, a drug cartel that has been terrorizing many communities in Michoacan.
The self defense groups rose up against the cartel in February 2013 to fight extortion, kidnappings and killings.
The government nabbed the main leaders of the cartel in May 2014.