HomeNewsBriefCan Mexico Break Knights Templar's Hold on Michoacan Port?
BRIEF

Can Mexico Break Knights Templar's Hold on Michoacan Port?

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 5 NOV 2013 BY NATALIE SOUTHWICK EN

The Mexican government has ordered federal troops to seize control of the Pacific coast port and Knights Templar stronghold Lazaro Cardenas, illustrating the difficulty authorities face fighting a criminal organization that has co-opted much of Michoacan state.

On November 4, the government announced the navy, army and federal police would take over security in Lazaro Cardenas, one of Mexico's busiest sea ports, reported Animal Politico. The forces are combining to protect the port's operations, replacing the local police force, which was disarmed and taken out of action while awaiting further training.

Lazaro Cardenas, in the embattled Michoacan state, has become a "gold mine" for the Knights Templar, who control much of the activity within the port, reported Milenio. The group "taxes" products passing through the port, and combines money laundering with more than two dozen other activities including selling pirated DVDs and brand-name clothing, mineral exportation, drug trafficking and extortion of businesses operating in and around the port.

InSight Crime Analysis

For years, Lazaro Cardenas has been a vital link in drug trafficking networks, functioning as a major entry point for drugs and precursor chemicals. The port is also a source of valuable information for local criminal organizations, which extort both the local and international businesses that operate there.

This criminal jewel is currently in the hands of the Knights Templar, whose violent campaigns against the state, rival traffickers and vigilante "self-defense" forces have left Michoacan state close to ungovernable and raised fears of a "narco-insurgency." 

SEE ALSO: Knights Templar Profile

The assault by the federal forces on Lazaro Cardenas appears to be an attempt to strike at the Knights in their economic hub, a move likely inspired by the hope that if the authorities can break their grip there then it will begin to loosen elsewhere in the state.

However, as illustrated by the fact the federal forces felt they had to bypass the local police to operate, the Knights' influence in the region runs deep and will not be easily uprooted. The government has tried and failed to retake Lazaro Cardenas in the past, and there is no reason to believe anything will be different this time. The Knights' influence extends throughout the local economy, and the "gold mine" of the port, and indeed of Michoacan, is not something they will readily walk away from.

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

HOMICIDES / 27 JUN 2016

The number of homicides in May reached levels unseen during the administration of Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, and the fact…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 5 JUL 2011

On the eve of a vital gubernatorial election in Mexico State, five dismembered bodies were left in plastic bags in…

JALISCO CARTEL / 25 MAY 2015

Police in Mexico have killed 42 alleged cartel members in the most deadly drug war confrontation of recent times --…

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.