Reports that an alleged rapist was crucified in rural Michoacan, west Mexico, raise the question of whether the Knights Templar gang were responsible, as the killing bears several trademarks associated with the criminal group.
According to Notimex, the 24-year-old victim was discovered crucified in the municipality of Contepec on September 7, four days after a woman filed a police report stating that he sexually assaulted her. The victim's body bore signs of torture and was hung from a traffic sign. A message was attached to his chest with two ice picks, and read: "This happened to me for being a rapist and it will happen to all the gossips, tattlers, traitors, know this is not a game."
Drug trafficking blog Mundo Narco attributes the crucifixion to the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) but security and government officials in Michoacan have not confirmed this, nor has the gang claimed responsibility.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the message on the victim's body was not signed by the Knights Templar, the threats against "tattlers" and "traitors" echoed the rhetoric found in the narco-banners that Mexico's criminal gangs use to make public announcements. And given the Knights Templar's use of ritual and religious symbolism -- from their name to the costume helmets found in a safehouse earlier this year -- it would not be surprising if they chose to give their victim a symbolic punishment. The victim's genitals had reportedly been cut off and stuffed into his mouth.
It is also possible that the killing was carried out by local people seeking revenge. But no matter who is responsible, the death highlights the lack of faith in official authority in Michoacan, illustrating a belief that the alleged rapist would not be brought to justice by the formal legal system. This lack of state authority in Michoacan has helped the rise of the Knights Templar and their predecessors, the Familia Michoacana, both of which have presented themselves as acting as law enforcers in the region.