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Mexico set to free founder of Michoacan vigilante movement held on weapons, drug charges.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities say they are near to freeing Jose Manuel Mireles, a founder of the self-defense movement that rose up to fight an entrenched drug cartel in the western state of Michoacan.

The Attorney General's office says it is withdrawing an appeal to a petition filed by Mireles' lawyer to free him, essentially allowing his release.

Mireles, who became the face of the vigilante movement, has been held for a year after being arrested in an armored vehicle carrying weapons and drugs. His arrest came around the time that he refused to cooperate with the federal government's conversion of self-defense groups to rural police.

Michoacan's vigilante movement began in February 2013 after farmers and ranchers grew tired of the Knights Templar Cartel's reign of kidnapping, murder and extortion.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 6, 2013 photo, Doctor Jose Manuel Mireles, leader of his town's self-defense group, pauses during an interview with the Associated Press at his ranch in the town of Tepalcatepec, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. The documentary “Cartel Land”, produced and directed by New York-based director Matthew Heineman paired the story of Mireles and his “self-defense” forces battling drug cartels with the tale of a vigilante north of the border: war veteran Tim “Nailer” Foley and his Arizona Border Recon. The film opens on July 2, 2015 in Mexico, a day later in New York and and later in other U.S. cities. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this Nov. 6, 2013 photo, Doctor Jose Manuel Mireles, leader of his town's self-defense group, pauses during an interview with the Associated Press at his ranch in the town of Tepalcatepec, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. The documentary “Cartel Land”, produced and directed by New York-based director Matthew Heineman paired the story of Mireles and his “self-defense” forces battling drug cartels with the tale of a vigilante north of the border: war veteran Tim “Nailer” Foley and his Arizona Border Recon. The film opens on July 2, 2015 in Mexico, a day later in New York and and later in other U.S. cities. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

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