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

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 MAY 2021

Time appears to be running out for the governor of the US-Mexico border state of Tamaulipas – after lawmakers stripped…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 29 JUN 2022

As many as 50 migrants have been found dead inside a truck 150 miles north of the US-Mexico border.

FENTANYL / 14 NOV 2022

Many American users, perhaps the majority, now realize when they’re consuming illicit fentanyl. This has changed the way they look…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…