José Manuel Mireles Valverde

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José Manuel Mireles Valverde
Born (1958-10-24) 24 October 1958 (age 59)
Michoacán, Mexico
Other names Doctor Mireles
Occupation Medical surgeon
Former Autodefensa leader
Criminal charge Detained for violating Mexico's Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives[1]
Criminal penalty In process
Criminal status On parole, awaiting trial[2]
Spouse(s) Ana Valencia Chavez[3] (Divorced)
Allegiance paramilitary self-defense groups
Conviction(s) Violating Mexico's Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives

José Manuel Mireles Valverde (born 24 October 1958) is a Mexican medical doctor and former leader and founder[4] of the paramilitary self-defense groups that fought against the Knights Templar Cartel, and other cartels, in the state of Michoacán and others, in México.[5] Mireles emerged as an important figure within the self-defense militias during the fall of 2013 as self-defense groups were fighting against the Knights Templar Cartel in Apatzingán, [], and other municipalities on the Michoacán coast. He describes his motivation to participate in the armed self-defense groups as stemming from the abuse of the Knights Templar Cartel against himself and his family (he has himself been kidnapped by the cartel) which has also murdered several of his family members causing him to take up arms in defense of his community of Tepalcatepec.[6]

Early life[edit]

Some media outlets state that in 1988 he served time in prison for allegedly producing marijuana, which Mireles has denied stating his imprisonment was for practicing medicine in Michoacán without an active state license.[7]

He traveled to the US where he worked as a social activist. Upon his return, he started some political work and ran for the Mexican Senate in 2006.[8][9]

Involvement in Autodefensas[edit]

Mireles states he joined the self-defense group to protect his family against the Knights Templar Cartel, after he was kidnapped by the cartel which demanded money to release him, and also had murdered several of his relatives.[10]

On 4 January 2014, Mireles was injured in a plane crash[11] as he was traveling to the community of Zicuiran.[12][13][14]

Two weeks later the Mexican Government initiated efforts to control the escalating violence in Michoacán by deploying the Army against both the cartels and the self-defense militias.

Initially, a video of a badly wounded Mireles was published in which he urged the self-defense groups to lay down their arms and cooperate with the Army. But subsequently he appeared in a different video in which he stated that the self-defense groups would lay down their arms, but not until the Army had taken steps to secure their safety by curbing the activities of the Knights Templar Cartel,[15] including the capture and/or death of the cartel's top leaders: Servando Gómez Martínez (alias "La Tuta"); Nazario Moreno González (alias "El Chayo"); Enrique Plancarte Solís (alias "El Kike"); Dionicio Loya Plancarte (alias "Tío Nacho"), among others.[16]

Mireles later stated in an interview with Carmen Aristegui that the first message was the result of government officials requesting him to read a message written by them, which they then edited to make it look as if he was making the statement of his own opinion.[17][18] The Mexican Secretary of State Miguel Angel Osorio Chong denied that the government had any role in producing the initial message.[19]

In March 2014 some members of the council of Autodefensas distanced themselves from Mireles, stating that he was no longer a member of the leadership nor the official spokesperson of the Autodefensas in Michoacan.

Mireles earlier functions were taken over by his former bodyguard Estanislao Beltran alias "Papa Pitufo".[20][21][22]

Other Autodefensas maintained loyal to their former faction, by rejecting Estanislao's leadership, after they realized he was planning on joining the Government Rural forces.


On 27 June 2014, Mireles was arrested with 45 other people in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán by Mexican authorities for violating Mexico's Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives.[23] The government had pledged to arrest civilians who were armed and did not form part of the Fuerza Rural ("Rural Force") police.[24]

This action happened one week after a TV interview that was cut short as a consequence of a phone call ordering the termination of the interview, in which Mireles was denouncing the involvement of Mexico's president in the Michoacán irregularities.

From prison, Mireles has sent messages to the nation through his former lawyer Talia Vazquez (the current is Javier Livas) and through the Grillonautas YouTube channel. In a message released in 2015, he stated: "Not only Manuel Mireles is innocent, but all self-defense members that had to carry a weapon to defend their home, their family, their property, because there was no one to help them."[25]

In 2016, Mireles issued an apology to the government and his family for the disrespect he has shown official institutions in the country. In a video statement posted on social media, he said, "I want to apologize, through this message, to the Mexican government and its official and unofficial institutions, and its nation-wide structures, for disrespecting them with words or actions, for offending them with my omissions and civil disobedience." Charges against him were dropped by the Attorney General, however Mireles remained in jail.[26]


On 11 May 2017 after almost 3 years in prison, a federal judge granted Mireles parole after paying a bond of 30,000 pesos and agreeing not to leave the state of Michoacán or the country.[27][28]

In the media[edit]

Mireles was featured in the 2015 American documentary film Cartel Land.


  1. ^ "Autoridades detienen en Michoacán a José Manuel Mireles" (in Spanish). CNNMéxico. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Mireles, el alzado líder de las autodefensas en Michoacán". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Video: Intentan denostarme, como si yo fuera un político.- Mireles". Aristegui Noticias. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Nombre *. "Que siempre no | La Jornada Michoacán". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Mireles, líder de autodefensas, estuvo preso por narcotráfico" (in Spanish). excelsior. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Mireles, el alzado líder de las autodefensas en Michoacán". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "¿Quién es Manuel Mireles, líder de la autodefensa en Michoacán? | Red Política – El Universal". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Gallegos, Raul (16 January 2014). "Who's Worse: Mexico's Drug Lords or Its Vigilantes?". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Los Estados – Investigarán Michoacán y PGR accidente de líder de autodefensa". El Universal. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "2 videos de Mireles dividen a autodefensas en Michoacán". Aristegui Noticias. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Aguiar, Rodrigo (20 January 2014). "Autoridades consignan a líder 'templario' señalado por autodefensas". CNNMéxico (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Documento: Mensaje que el gobierno le pidió leer a Mireles, entregado a MVS". Aristegui Noticias. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Gobierno federal me hizo leer un mensaje, y en la TV fue distorsionado: Mireles". Aristegui Noticias. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  19. ^ ""No forzamos declaración de Mireles" para la TV: Osor io Chong". Aristegui Noticias. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
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  23. ^ "Autoridades detienen en Michoacán a José Manuel Mireles" (in Spanish). CNNMéxico. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "Detienen a Mireles en Lázaro Cárdenas" (in Spanish). Milenio. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  25. ^ "Pide Mireles un dictamen más justo sobre su caso" [Calls for a fairer Mireles opinion about your case]. Quadratin (in Spanish). 12 September 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  26. ^ "Once defiant Mireles offers an apology". Mexico News Daily. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  27. ^ "Libre el ex líder de autodefensas José Manuel Mireles". Vértigo Político (in Spanish). 11 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017. 
  28. ^ "Abandona Mireles penal federal de Nayarit, tras pagar fianza de 30 mil pesos". Jorge Castro (in Spanish). 12 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.