TUXTLA GUTIERREZ: Some 150 indigenous farmers took over a UN office in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas to demand the release of three jailed leaders, their group said Saturday.
The Tzotzil Indians, who also sought "refuge as internally displaced persons" during Friday's move, took this "desperate measure to attract attention and secure the release of three comrades," the Emiliano Zapata Farmers' Organization (OCEZ) said in a statement.
The OCEZ is a land rights group inspired by Zapata, a key figure in the Mexican Revolution that broke out in 1910. The three prisoners were arrested last weekend by the police and army on charges of using the group for drug and arms trafficking.
Food and clothes were provided to the farmers who spent the night and still remain at the UN building in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Calls to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) were not immediately returned.
The three arrested leaders -- Roselio Cruz, Jose Manuel de la Torre and Francisco Roman -- are part of "Los Pelones," the armed wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel, "and are known for being very active in arms and drug trafficking," Chiapas prosecutors said at the time of their arrest.
Another OCEZ leader, Jose Manuel Hernandez, was arrested on September 30 for expropriation and property damage.
The farmers accuse the government of Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state where Zapatistas launched an armed rebellion in 1994, of seeking to "criminalize social struggle."