A video of a tearful mayor from Michoacan, Mexico pleading for the help of the Knights Templar offers yet another example of both the extent of the criminal group's reach and the impossible position in which they often put local politicians.
The footage (see video below), obtained by newspaper La Razon, shows the mayor of Patzcuaro, Salma Karrum Cervantes, meeting with area's Knights Templar boss, known as "Tony."
The visibly distressed Karrum, clutching the arm of the mafia chief, asks for help in finding out why her son-in-law was murdered.
"I feel cheated, I have done my bit, my life has changed," she said. "I felt secure but something has failed. If it was me that failed, tell me, what I want to know is what happened. I would like to know who it was, why they did it."
Tony denied the Knights Templar were involved in any way, saying they remained staunch supporters of the mayor.
"We see a lot of potential in you in politics. You are going to be the next congresswoman. No one is going to take you away from there; your work has been very good, " he said. "It is unfortunate this happened, but we are going to take care of you. You have our support."
The mayor quickly backs down from hinting at the Knights' involvement, and the two then discuss possible culprits and steps the Knights will take to help her, including offering to provide her with security.
After the release of the video, Karrum made a statement denying involvement in any illegal activity and saying she only attended the meeting because they called her.
The video is one of a several released in recent months. Several days before it was published, another prominent political figure, the son of former governor Fausto Vallejo, was arrested after appearing in a video with Knights leader Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta."
InSight Crime Analysis
The spate of videos released in recent months hints at the scale of the Knights Templar's web of political contacts. But it also shows the group's cunning. The videos may have been made to generate political leverage by holding the threat of exposure over local politicians. The fact they are being released now is likely a result of the succession of setbacks the group has suffered over the last year, which has left the Knights with their backs against the wall.
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The footage also underscores the impossible position of local politicians. While it shows the help the group provides in boosting political careers, behind that help is the ever-present threat of violence. In the last 18 months alone, 16 mayors have been murdered in Mexico.