The Familia Michoacana announced Monday that they were disbanding. Dozens of fliers and banners appeared in the towns Patzcuaro, Quiroga, Santa Clara del Cobre and Apatzingan.
Local paper Sol de Morelia reports that in Lazaro Cardenas, banners appeared above major highways and close to other key locations like the Federal Police station and the military’s naval academy. Dozens of photocopied fliers were scattered in the streets of state capital Morelia, where authorities removed 25 banners hung across the city.
The Familia has committed similar public relations stunts before, previously announcing that they would cease all “criminal activity” for the month of January, in a pledge of solidarity for the “people of Michoacan.”
If the banners mean anything at all, it is that the top-ranking Familia lieutenants like Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” and Jose Jesus Mendez Vargas, alias “El Chango,” may be more interested in seeking a lower profile than in “ceasing” criminal activity. The profits to be made from methamphetamine production and extortion in Michoacan are far too lucrative and attractive a business for the Familia to simply walk away. According to a report by George Grayson for the Strategies Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, the Familia pays its local drug dealers between $1,500 and $2,000 a day. Daily earnings from drug sales in Morelia alone may reach up to 4 million pesos (about US$330,400) a day. The Familia now have a very high profile, attracting too much security force attention, so it could be the criminal enterprise is looking to reorganize itself into a more clandestine, underground force.
Considering the grassroots strength of the Familia’s ideology, it seems unlikely that the group’s estimated 4,000 members would so easily revoke their ‘solidarity’, let alone end their bloody feud with the Zetas, who are keen to take control of the Lazaro Cardenas port. The Familia has recruited many of its members from groups of rehabilitated drug addicts or dispossessed, unemployed young men in rural Michoacan. In contrast to other cartels, like their arch rivals the Zetas, Familia recruits are required to undergo a period of indoctrination that invokes twisted, evangelical teachings. The group’s former leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, killed in a gunfight with the security forces last December, was believed to have masterminded this recruitment strategy.
A translation of the text distributed by the Familia is below. The original message, as printed by Sol de Morelia and other national Mexican news sources, has poor grammar and spelling which InSight has modified slightly in places for sake of clarity. The message attacks Genaro Garcia Luna, the Secretary of Public Security.
To general society, we wish to communicate to you that as of today we have concluded all of our general services granted to the Michoacan society, whom, since December 1, in response to all the atrocities, abuses and violations that the Federal Police have inflicted upon the civilian population in all of the state of Michoacan, these abuses were ordered by Genaro Garcia Luna, they have falsely claimed to be protecting the Michoacanos when all they do is the contrary, the criminals and thieves are the federal forces.
The Familia Michoacana is completely dissolved for being unfairly blamed, the Familia Michoacana has exterminated the rapists and kidnappers, it is time that sir Felipe Calderon investigates his cabinet especially Genaro Garcia Luna, who has been badly influenced and ill advised against the Familia. May the doors of the state open so that they can show love for their native country. This same government, society or someone else is given the task to finish what the Familia Michoacana began.