Apatzingan: Hundreds of people demonstrated in the town square here in support of a top drug lord reported killed last week in a shootout with police.
"Long live La Familia in Michoacan," "Nazario still lives in our hearts," read some banners, referring to La Familia drug cartel and its capo, Nazario Moreno, whose body has not turned up since the shootout on Thursday.
Government officials believe Moreno`s body was spirited into the hills by his men after the gunfight, in which 11 people were killed, including an eight-month-old baby and a teenage girl.
Security forces ordered local residents to stay indoors while they searched the town and surrounding villages for Moreno`s body.
When the curfew lifted yesterday, some 500 people turned out to vent their anger at what they said were heavy-handed police tactics.
"Get the federal police force out of Michoacan," one banner read, referring to the western state where La Familia has its base of operations.
"Mr Governor, we want peace and tranquillity," said another banner held high between a Mexican flag and religious image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The main access road to Apatzingan was reopened yesterday after it was cleared of charred vehicles that were torched and abandoned during the shootout.
But things were not quite back to normal.
"We`re practically under siege by the Army and the Navy," Apatzingan town president Genaro Guizar said.
"We`re only handling certain situations in the town, like robberies and suicides, nothing that has to do with murders or armed confrontations, those are handled by federal authorities," he added.
Guizar said police and military forces were still "operating" in towns and villages in the mountains surrounding Apatzingan in search for Moreno`s remains and members of his criminal group.
Also known as `El Chayo` or `The Doctor,` Moreno is said to be the boss of La Familia and is on Mexico`s most-wanted list with a USD 2.4 million bounty on his head.
Notorious for its ruthlessness, La Familia made headlines in October 2005 when members rolled five human heads onto a nightclub dance floor bearing a chilling message saying, "this is divine justice”.
It mainly deals in marijuana, which grows abundantly in Michoacan, and since then the cartel`s operations and violence have expanded into neighbouring states Guerrero and Jalisco.
In Guerrero yesterday, seven bodies were found along roads near the tourist resort city of Acapulco, three of them were decapitated and two hung from a bridge, state officials reported.