HomeNewsBriefKnights Templar Extortion Halts Construction of Michoacan Prison
BRIEF

Knights Templar Extortion Halts Construction of Michoacan Prison

EXTORTION / 5 SEP 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Attempts by the Knights Templar to extort a company building a federal prison in Mexico's Michoacan state have resulted in workers abandoning the site over threats, highlighting the extent of the group's power and its use of extortion for both control and profit.

The contract for the prison, located in Buenavista Tomatlan in the violence ridden region known as "Tierra Caliente," was awarded to national company Prodemex under the previous administration.

Locals have reported that the Knights Templar demanded about $1.5 million in exchange for allowing the company to work in the area. When the company refused to pay, the group began to terrorize employees, causing the project to be put on hold as numerous workers quit.

Milenio interviewed one engineer formerly involved in the project, who said the group threatened to find their families, left threatening messages in their hotels and followed them. A local vigilante leader said the Knights Templar had killed two workers.

The new government says construction is continuing as planned and that they have had no new complaints since increasing security for the project. Milenio, however, claims the construction site is nearly completely abandoned.

InSight Crime Analysis

When the Knights Templar first appeared in Michoacan state in 2011, they claimed they would protect the population from extortion, kidnapping, robbery and rival groups. Since then, the Knights have taken control of much of the western Tierra Caliente valley, although their dominance is currently being challenged by local self-defense groups.

This is not the first time the Knights Templar have been accused of extorting a major company -- in 2012, the group was allegedly responsible for several attacks against a PepsiCo subsidiary in Guanajuato and Michoacan, which officials claimed was motivated by extortion -- although the company denied this. Along with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the group is also thought to be one of the principal groups extorting mining operations in Mexico. Extortion by criminal groups has forced a number of foreign companies to leave the country.

As the traditional cartels have fragmented, diverse Mexican criminal groups fighting for resources have increasingly expanded into activities other than drug trafficking. This pattern has also been seen in Colombia, where extortion for profit has become a major criminal enterprise

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

GULF CARTEL / 29 NOV 2012

A recent US federal investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has uncovered cooperation between the violent white supremacist…

MEXICO / 8 MAR 2017

A new documentary provides a detailed look at the inner workings of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, from mules loaded down with…

CANADA / 2 MAY 2012

The murder of a Canadian crime boss in Mexico illustrates the troubling links between criminal organizations in the two countries.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.