HomeNewsBriefOutside Drug Cartels, Rogue Vigilantes Set Sights on Michoacan
BRIEF

Outside Drug Cartels, Rogue Vigilantes Set Sights on Michoacan

JALISCO CARTEL / 23 APR 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT AND ARMANDO CORDOBA EN

The assault against the Knights Templar led by vigilante groups and security forces is creating a criminal power vacuum in Mexico's Michoacan state, which authorities believe some of the country's leading criminal groups, as well as rogue self-defense militias, are now looking to fill.

Confidential Mexican federal government documents obtained by Proceso warn Michoacan is now being contested by factions of the self-defense movement that have been infiltrated by criminals, and by cartels including the Zetas, the remains of the Familia Michoacana, the Gulf Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).

According to Proceso, among the most powerful criminalized self-defense militias is the group Los Gallegos, which is allied with the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG). The latter group, in turn, is reportedly backed by Mexico's dominant criminal force, the Sinaloa Cartel.

Also of concern are the vigilantes of Buenavista Tomatlan, led by Luis Antonio Torres, alias "Simon" or "El Americano." Now 1,200 people strong, the militia is operating under the name the H-3 (Hermandad 3 -- Brotherhood 3) Self-Defense Operation.

The implosion of the Knights Templar has also alerted outside cartels to the opportunities available in the state. According to the documents, the Zetas are looking to return to the region they were once driven out of, while the Gulf Cartel has made an alliance with Knights leader Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta," and the BLO had joined forces with recently killed Knights number two, Enrique "El Kike" Plancarte.

InSight Crime Analysis

Until recently, the Knights Templar enjoyed extensive control over Michoacan, not only trafficking and manufacturing drugs but also exploiting sectors including avocado production and iron mining, as well as engaging in widespread extortion of businesses and controlling local government.

However, the group has been left reeling from attacks launched by self-defense militias and the security forces, and from the death of their leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias" El Chayo." If the government documents are accurate, they may also be fragmenting -- the reports suggest the Knights' new main leader, La Tuta, and the man believed to be his deputy prior to his recent death, El Kike, had been seeking out alliances with different groups.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Mexico Vigilantes

It is unsurprising other criminal groups are seeking to capitalize on the collapse of the Knights in Michoacan. On offer are not only the criminal networks they established, but also control of Mexico's largest container port, Lazaro Cardenas, which is a major entry point for drugs and precursor chemicals used in synthetic drug production.

The documents also seem to confirm the worst suspicions about the region's vigilante movement, which from the very beginning has aroused concerns the groups could be infiltrated and manipulated for criminal purposes.

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

CYBERCRIME / 7 DEC 2016

The cyber theft of personal and business data in Mexico is reportedly increasing, illustrating the limited power that government institutions…

FENTANYL / 19 FEB 2019

Fentanyl use is booming in the United States. With support from the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, InSight…

COCA / 17 MAR 2017

In our March 16 Facebook Live videocast, InSight Crime Senior Investigators Deborah Bonello and Héctor Silva Ávalos, and Senior Editor…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…