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

AYOTZINAPA / 26 SEP 2017

It remains unclear exactly how 43 students from a rural teacher's college in Mexico disappeared three years ago. And…

JALISCO CARTEL / 29 JUL 2011

An emerging criminal group, calling itself the "Zeta Killers," has announced its formation, promising to rid the Mexican state of…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 27 FEB 2013

The Mexican government is to accept its responsibilities towards children recruited by criminal gangs and other non-state armed actors, reversing…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.