HomeNewsBriefRumors Fuel The Legend of the “Narco-Saint”
BRIEF

Rumors Fuel The Legend of the "Narco-Saint"

EL CHAYO / 6 FEB 2014 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

The reported arrest of a financial operator for "The Craziest One," the former leader of Mexico's Familia Michoacana, has fueled rumors that the cartel boss, hailed by followers as a saint, is still alive.

A recently detained man has been identified as the financial operator of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Mas Loco," or "El Chayo," reported BBC Mundo. The arrest feeds beliefs among Michoacan residents that the drug lord is still alive and has been directing operations ever since his "death" in December 2010. Nazario Moreno was said to have died in a firefight with national police, but his body was never recovered.

Nazario Moreno, supposedly a devout, evangelical Christian, was one of the founders of La Familia Michoacana, a drug trafficking organization rooted in the state of same name where today a splinter group, the Knights Templar, holds sway. 

Journalist Jose Gil Olmos said the influence Nazario Moreno still has among the local populace is extremely important: "They note his leadership, all the people of Michoacan say he did not die… in this conflict Nazario is not only the physical leader of the Templars but the spiritual guide as well."

Some locals have even canonized him as a saint. In the community of Holanda in southern Michoacan a chapel has been built venerating Nazario Moreno's image, with writing above one column declaring, "They are lying, Nazario is alive." The leader, dead or alive, has become "one of the central elements in the war against drug trafficking" in Michoacan, said BBC Mundo.

The Mexican government has never been able to confirm his death, reported BBC Mundo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rumors of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez being alive, and alleged sightings of him by locals, have circulated practically since the day he died. His death brought the birth of the Knights Templar, which has co-opted and incorporated his spiritual and religious rhetoric into the group's pseudo-philosophy, even filling a handbook for new members with abstract religious and moral requirements, echoing the quasi-spiritual teachings of Moreno himself.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Knights Templar

Adopting the mysticism surrounding Nazario Moreno has served as an important propaganda and recruiting tool for the Knights Templar. By perpetuating and encouraging this mythology, and the idea Moreno may still be alive, the Knights Templar  hope to penetrate the social and popular consciousness and win support in the face of continued assaults against them from vigilante and state security forces

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

MEXICO / 6 JUN 2011

Mexico’s latest anti-violence protest, the Caravan for Peace, kicked off on Saturday in Cuernavaca, and will wind its way through…

JUDICIAL REFORM / 14 OCT 2015

Mexico has inaugurated a program to train police in proper evidence collection methods as part of its transition to a…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 22 JAN 2015

A new study suggests the number of guns trafficked from the United States to Mexico is higher than previously believed,…

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.