Michoacàn has long been one of the states on the frontline of Mexico's "drug war", and is one of the country's most violent.
The hot and mountainous region has all the qualities of a prosperous piece of paradise. Almost everything can be grown here, and the soil is rich with thousands of tons of metal ore.
But around 15 years ago, a cartel called La Familia started to extort, kidnap, intimidate and murder the locals. The cartel split in 2011 and a new group formed - los Caballeros Templarios, or the Knights Templar. Today, the Caballeros rule in parts of the region, and the bishop of the town often called their stronghold, Apatzingán, recently called Michoacàn a 'failed state'.
The cartel earns millions of dollars by extorting businesses in all the sectors of the economy. The local authorities often collaborate with them. The military has been deployed there a number of times, most recently by current president Enrique Pena Nieto and before that by his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
People in many of the villages are exhausted and helpless, and have taken up arms to defend themselves. These self-defence groups have multiplied across the region and neighbouring states such as Guerrero.
The Mexico Bureau spent some time in Michoacàn, documenting the reality for some of the people living in the town of Tepalcatepec.
Doctor Mireles now shares his time between his consulting room and the armed operation he organizes with his friends from the community police. Jimena is trying to put together the pieces of her shattered life after she was raped by a cartel member. And an anonymous mine owner confesses that he is still paying the ransom that the Caballeros had asked for him when he was kidnapped and tortured. He says that all foreign mining companies are also paying millions of dollars to the Caballeros.