Residents Cheer as Mexican Army Rolls Into Drug War Town

PHOTO: Mexican army soldiers entered the town of La Ruana, Michoacan on Monday, May 20, 2013. Residents of western Mexico towns who endured months besieged by a drug cartel are cheering the arrival of hundreds of Mexican army troops.PlayMarco Ugarte/AP Photo
WATCH Mexican Army Gets Hero's Welcome in Small Village

It looks like something from a World War II movie. But the scenes depicted in the above video actually happened in La Ruana, Mexico, earlier this week.

The small town of 10,000 people, had been under attack since February when it rebelled against members of the Knights Templar drug cartel, who were illegally taxing local businesses.

With old guns and hunting rifles, la Ruana formed a self-defense group and kicked the cartel's members out of town. But in revenge, the Knights Templar besieged La Ruana, preventing food and other basic supplies from entering the area. The cartel also threatened to kill members of the self-defence group, prompting residents to set up several armed checkpoints around town.

It is of little surprise then, that the Mexican army received a hero's welcome when it arrived in town on Monday, with its guns. Some 6,000 troops went into the most troubled areas of Michoacan and occupied several towns around La Ruana as well.

"This war has been won," said Hipolito Mora, the leader of the local self-defense squad. "From now on the Knights Templar will have to be very afraid of the army and the federal police."

This military offensive is part of President Enrique Peña Nieto's security strategy, which seeks to reduce violence around the country. In Michoacan -- where La Ruana is located -- the government is trying to restore the rule of law in places that have come under attack from the Knights Templar. It also wants to convince towns that have formed self defence organizations to turn their weapons in.

In La Ruana, self-defence leader Hipolito Mora said that his group would cease operations while the army was in town, but he warned that he was not yet ready to give his weapons up.

"I spoke clearly to the commander [in charge of operations in La Ruana]" Mora said. "If they leave the town unguarded for one day, we will once again guard our people."