A drugs cartel in Mexico has renamed itself the Knights Templar. The reason – well, they are putting themselves around as defenders of the community and self-appointed enforcers of the law. At least a version of the ‘law’ they recognise, which normally involves shooting somebody up and leaving them to be discovered in a car.
La Familiar Michoacana is the cartel that has adopted the garb of the Templars. It is part of the Cartel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel) which dominates up to thirteen states in Mexico. That unfortunate country has been increasingly divided up between rival cartels so now resembles a patchwork of drug barons’ fiefdoms. The new Templars have been fighting another outfit called the Zetas in northern Mexico.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, these Templars are the main suppliers of methamphetamines to the US market for such narcotics. The Familia’s reputation was for extortion, kidnap and ranson demands and its version of law enforcement – including execution.
The rebranding of the Familia was announced by banners hung up on road signs and even a school fence before being hastily removed by Mexican police. These banners appeared in the state capital Morelia as well as the towns of Zitacuaro and Apatzingan.
The Templar/Zeta confrontation has already had horrific results with four bodies discovered in the western state of Michoacan riddled with bullets and bearing signs saying that these new Templars had administered this sick form of justice. In the north east state of Nuevo Leon, a 17 year old youth was gunned down in front of his girlfriend for some or other reason. In Cuidad Juarez just a day ago, the owner of a burrito stand and his ten year old son died in a hail of gunfire.
The rebranding of the Familia as the Knights Templar seems to have been part of a process of strengthening a cartel that was seen to have got weaker. Why they picked the Templars is presumably because of the notion that the Templars were strong and uncompromising. True – but they didn’t deal in methamphetamines, shoot up innocent children or impose a self-interested reign of terror on entire communities. Therein lies a key difference!