HomeNewsBriefMexico Drug Gang Claims Pepsi Subsidiary Helped Govt Agents
BRIEF

Mexico Drug Gang Claims Pepsi Subsidiary Helped Govt Agents

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 1 JUN 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

The Caballeros Templarios, a drug gang based in west Mexico, left a series of public messages apologizing for arson attacks on a Mexico-based subsidiary of PepsiCo, claiming that it was punishment for the company providing cover for government agents.

On Thursday night, a Sabritas truck traveling in the municipality of Lagunillas, Michoacan state, was stopped by a group of armed men. They set fire to the vehicle, leaving the driver with severe burns over 70 percent of his body, reports Notimex.

The assault follows a series of attacks on Sabritas property last weekend. Between May 25 and 26 several distribution centers and some 40 company trucks were firebombed in Michoacan and neighboring Guanajuato.

On Thursday morning, banners appeared around the cities of Apatzingan and Morelia in Michoacan, stating that the Cabelleros were responsible. According to the message, the Caballeros attacked Sabritas property because the company had been cooperating with government operations against the group.

The message was addressed to "all national and transnational businesses," reported Historicas del Narco. It said that "we, the brotherhood Templar" carried out the attack because "intelligence workers and government agents pass themselves off as salespeople in a company, in this case Sabritas." However, it goes on to apologize for the attacks, saying that these companies provide jobs to residents of Michoacan -- "We are doing this because it is the only way to make them respect and care for the integrity of our brotherhood, our state and our people."

InSight Crime Analysis

The accusation in this message is not totally implausible. Michoacan is a state deeply infiltrated by organized crime, and government agents might need to go deep undercover to operate there. Proceso points out that since President Felipe Calderon took power it has been an "open secret" that companies linked to his electoral campaign have served as a launching point for intelligence work and operations against the Familia Michoacana, the dominant drug gang in the state, which spawned the Caballeros.

Michoacan is a high priority for the Mexican government. It is Calderon's home state, and is one of the parts of Mexico where government and business are thought to be most deeply infiltrated by organized crime. It was the first state to see a deployment of troops to fight crime after Calderon came to power in December 2006. But this has done little to cut the power of organized criminal groups in Michoacan, which has seen a wave of violence in recent months as the Caballeros have battled with the Familia following the group's split in early 2011.

The explanation that the attacks were a tactical move to discourage businesses from cooperating with the government, rather than part of an extortion attempt, makes sense. Mexico's criminal groups do not usually demand extortion fees from large international companies like Sabritas, as these have more resources to protect themselves and do not present such easy targets as smaller, local firms. The Sabritas firebombings were the first such attacks to be carried out against a transnational company in Mexico.

However, its not clear what a large company like Sabritas would gain from having undercover government agents planted in their workforce. It would seem a very risky practice for a business that operates in a narco-infiltrated state like Michoacan. Besides, companies that helped Calderon win the election would surely be owed favors by the new president, and not the other way round.

Another possible explanation is that the gang realized that they had gone too far by targeting a US-linked company, and that it could bring down the wrath of Washington. They may have decided to concoct the excuse about undercover agents to distract attention from the crime. However, the fact that the banners apologizing for the first spate of attacks appeared before the torching of a Sabritas truck on Thursday night means that attacks on the company could continue.

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

METHAMPHETAMINE / 6 NOV 2010

A Police sweep last Saturday saw the arrest of six low-level members of the Arellano Félix Organization, also known as…

MEXICO / 27 DEC 2011

Seizures of Zetas' communications equipment have increased international attention on the group's comms systems, which the Associated Press…

MEXICO / 27 APR 2011

The intimate photos of Martin Omar Estrada Luna, alias “El Kilo,” the reputed killer of hundreds in the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.