HomeNewsBriefKnights Templar Blame Self-Defense Groups For Violence In Mexico
BRIEF

Knights Templar Blame Self-Defense Groups For Violence In Mexico

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 29 APR 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

The leader of Mexico's Caballeros Templarios drug gang has released a video blaming the government, rival cartels and citizen self-defense groups for violence in Michoacan state, after a battle in the state left at least seven people dead.

Servando Gomez, alias "La Tuta," said armed civilians supported by the government and rival cartels were responsible for deaths and disorder in the state.  "The government is putting people against people," said Gomez. "If the state and federal governments take action in regard to law enforcement...we will lower our weapons and step aside. We carry weapons to defend our state from the Zetas and the CNJG (Jalisco Cartel - New Generation)."

A series of confrontations between self-defense groups, presumed criminals and security forces in Michoacan state on Sunday left seven people dead, mostly in areas with a strong Caballeros presence, reported AFP. According to news website Info BAE, at least ten people died and four were injured in the confrontations, which it said were between the Caballeros and a vigilante group. The site also reported hundreds of people marching later that day to protest against the self-defense groups, which they argued had doubled the violence in Michoacan state. Authorities claimed the protesters were members of the Caballeros.

InSight Crime Analysis

Adopting a supposed moral high ground is part of the Caballeros' modus operandi, as is blaming rivals for violence. Indeed the gang itself is a "self-defense group," it claims, battling the evils of "materialism, injustice and tyranny," on behalf of the Michoacan people. Rival groups are naturally to blame for said tyranny. The video ties into the Caballeros proactive public relations approach, which has seen them distributing pamphlets outlining their moral code and hanging "narcomanta" banners explaining their actions, denying responsibility for certain crimes or making demands of the government.

While second-in-command of Familia Michoacana, the once-powerful cartel from which the Caballeros formed, Gomez was known for attempting to promote a benevolent public image of the group, and has continued that strategy in his new position. In a video last year he claimed the gang was not an organized crime group but a brotherhood that wanted to bring peace to Michoacan, before calling on other criminal groups to unite against, and kill, the Zetas leader Miguel Angel Treviño.

While Gomez's attempt to paint the Caballeros as peace-loving defenders of the people is clearly absurd, his claim that vigilantes are inciting violence may be worth considering. Colombia's brutal paramilitary groups, thought to be responsible for the majority of human rights abuses during the country's conflict, sprung from citizen self-defense groups during the 1980s, and there are valid concerns Mexico's vigilantes could head down the same road.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 12 AUG 2021

Mexico's process of criminal fragmentation has been a slow burn. Many of the country's mightiest criminal groups have been unable…

ILLEGAL MINING / 27 JAN 2023

With cartels like the CJNG muscling in on illegal mining in Michoacán, Mexico, Indigenous community members continue to suffer.

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 2 APR 2021

Following the arrest of a former Mexican mayor in Guatemala, US prosecutors unveiled an indictment against him and criminal rivals…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…