Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

"Caballeros Templarios" issue booklet for proper conduct in Michoacan

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 |

A man holds up a copy of the 'The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan', in Morelia, Mexico, Tuesday, July 19, 2011. The professionally printed, pocket-size booklet was obtained by the Associated Press by a person who did not want to be identified and who said it was distributed earlier this month by two men in regular clothing aboard a bus traveling in rural Michoacan. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)


AP

An organized crime group calling itself the Knights Templar is distributing booklets saying it is fighting a war against poverty, tyranny and injustice, publicly appealing to hearts and minds in a part of Mexico where the government claims it has largely taken down the major drug traffickers.

Federal police said they seized copies of the cartel's "code of conduct" booklet during an arrest of cartel members in the western state of Michoacan last week, but refused to release its contents Tuesday, saying they didn't want fan the flames of the quasi-religious movement.

But a copy of the 22-page "The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan," illustrated with knights on horseback bearing lances and crosses, was obtained by The Associated Press this week. It says the group "will begin a challenging ideological battle to defend the values of a society based on ethics."

The Knights Templar have been blamed for murders, extortion, drug trafficking and attacks on police. Analysts say the propaganda is part of an effort to transform a drug cartel into a social movement, along the lines of what right-wing paramilitary groups did in Colombia in the 1990s against leftist rebels — a fight in which both sides used the drug trade to finance their causes.

"I think the main intent is to create a social base in Michoacan ... and that way they are different from other criminal organizations," said Jorge Chabat, a veteran analyst of the drug trade in Mexico. "They say they are defending the people against attacks. In the case of Colombia it was the guerrillas; here it is against who knows what."

The Knights Templar was founded in March, according to the booklet, whose illustrations were lifted from an artist, a website of a company that sells swords and another promoting the 2007 Swedish film "Arn: The Knight Templar," according to an AP image search.

Named for a medieval Roman Catholic order of religious warriors who fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem, Knights Templar is a splinter group of La Familia, another cult-like cartel whose leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, published a motivational pamphlet called "The Sayings of the Craziest One."

While La Familia claimed strict codes of conduct among its members, including prohibiting using or selling drugs within Mexican territory, it didn't distribute its booklets publicly. The contents of its "bible," reportedly based on the teachings of U.S. evangelist John Eldredge, have never been revealed by authorities. The cartel became one of Mexico's major sources of methamphetamine.

The Mexican government claims to have all but dismantled La Familia since Moreno was killed in a shootout with federal police last December and another founder, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, was arrested last month.

But the mayhem and killing has continued in Michoacan as Knights Templar gunmen battle both the Zetas cartel and remnants of La Familia seeking to control President Felipe Calderon's home state more than 4½ years after Calderon launched his crackdown on organized crime here in 2006.

More than 35,000 people have died in drug violence across Mexico since then, according to government figures, and some groups put the number at more than 40,000.

Calderon has said he took on the cartels to prevent organized crime from spreading to the roots of Mexican society.




Like La Familia, Knights Templar claims to be highly religious, but unlike La Familia, the new cartel has sought to distribute its teachings to the general public with kitschy but florid posters, banners, emblems and even medieval robes.

"God is the truth and there is no truth without God," reads one passage in the booklet.

The person who gave the AP the professionally printed, pocket-size booklet said it was distributed earlier this month by two men in regular clothing aboard a bus traveling in rural Michoacan. He said the men handing out the material then sat down among the other passengers and, without saying a word, got off at the next stop. He asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

The booklet says cartel members "must fight against materialism," and respect women and children. It prohibits them from killing for money and says, "for all members of the order, the use of any drugs or any hallucinogen is strictly prohibited." It mandates drug testing for members.

The Knights Templar have criticized federal police for failing to protect Michoacan against incursions by the ultra-violent Zetas.

The group may have helped organize a demonstration last week in the Michoacan city of Apatzingan, where people chanted "Federal police, get out!" Some young men scrawled slogans like "100 percent Knights Templar" on their T-shirts.

Government security spokesman Alejandro Poire did not respond to a reporter's question about whether the cartel had organized last Wednesday's demonstration, but said it had been known to do so in the past.

"It would not be the first time that various criminal organizations seek to use propaganda or publicity tools, but I stress that there is no criminal propaganda that can weaken the efforts of federal forces," Poire said Tuesday. "The stepped-up federal police presence will remain there."

While authorities at three government law enforcement agencies refused to confirm the authenticity of the AP's copy, the title is the same as three booklets that federal police found in a July 15 raid in Apatzingan that netted a suspect identified as the chief hit man for the cartel.

Along with the booklet, which also preaches loyalty to family and country, police also have confiscated banners with messages from the gang, trucks emblazoned with Templar "shields," and even white robes with red crosses like the ones worn by the original Knights Templar order.

The original knights were outlawed in Europe and executed and their order dismantled beginning in 1307.

Photos from a Mexican army raid the previous day on a Templar training camp in Zacapu, Michoacan, show pages like those in the booklet as well as a medieval-style helmet made of steel grating and the white tunics.

National security expert Javier Oliva at Mexico's National Autonomous University said the propaganda may have some pull in rural areas where the government is weak and lawlessness and violence are rampant.

"They mirror a bit the sociological, anthropological logic of the Mafia," he said. "They seek to take justice into their own hands in a Mexico where no functional justice system exists."

The propaganda campaign isn't winning over everyone.

The Mexico chapter of the modern-day Knights Templar Order issued a statement saying that "we disown completely and totally this disagreeable situation ... we have never had nor will we have contact with any of these people who display banners depicting themselves as Templars, and using this sacred name."

Welsh-born painter Mark Churms, who works from a studio in West Virginia, said he was never contacted by anyone in Mexico seeking to use his painting of a medieval knight, which appears in the booklet.

"When I was painting that image, I wasn't thinking, 'Wow, this would look good on a drug cartel leaflet,'" Churms said. "I hope people don't look at this and believe the hype that they are in any way connected with a monastic order."

Photograph of the cover of 'The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan', in Morelia, Mexico, Tuesday, July 19, 2011. The professionally printed, pocket-size booklet was obtained by the Associated Press by a person who did not want to be identified and who said it was distributed earlier this month by two men in regular clothing aboard a bus traveling in rural Michoacan. The sentence at the bottom reads in Spanish: "This fight is for your people, for my people, for ourselves and for our future generations".
Photograph of page one of 'The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan', in Morelia, Mexico, Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photograph of page 9 of 'The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan', in Morelia, Mexico, Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photograph of pages 22 and 23 of the 'The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan', in Morelia, Mexico, Tuesday, July 19, 2011.

In this photo taken July 14, 2011, white robes with Maltese crosses, guns, munitions and Templar Knights paraphernalia are shown to the press when a training camp was discovered after a firefight between Mexican army soldiers and gunmen in the woods near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico.
In this photo taken July 14, 2011, white robes with Maltese crosses and Templar Knights paraphernalia are shown to the press when a training camp was discovered after a firefight between Mexican army soldiers and gunmen in the woods near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico.

Photos: AP

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35 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

CT should join the Democrat party in the USA

Anonymous said...

When I first read this I thought it was interesting that the Cartels are using COIN and psyops tactics. What occurred to me is that the corrupt government is creating a situation that will make it impossible for a legitimate citizen's group to arise that will defend themselves. Any legitimate group would likely be viewed as a copy of the Knights Templar or other cartel even if they do not follow the la familia or FARC path and remain legitimate. I think the only way out is for a brutal dictator to arise which will kill a lot of people and "reset" the country which is the standard M.O. for latin american countries. My bets are on the Zeta's if they are smart enough to start playing the role of protector of the people.

'L 'B said...

i want one... mercado libre?...it is probably better than the code of conduct for the policia...is there a section covering shooting peoples pets ?

no wonder the gob de Mexico is coming down so hard on these guys...at least they are pretending to have some sort of standards

what a crazy world.. the criminals are seizing the moral high ground..while the cops shoot puppy dogs and kidnap migrants

where is this?...ohhhh ..Mexico

Anonymous said...

FARC path? What do you mean? Are you comparing the CT with the FARC? Wow! How ignorant of you. Apples and oranges my friend.

Anonymous said...

These Payasos (Bozos) just want to win the Hearts and Minds of the people they are opressing AND CONTROLING. They are waging a Public relations campaign aimed at Poor uneducated campesinos. This is Recruitment and DISINFORMATION. The Criminal Narcos want the Good people on their side.

THE BIGGER THE LIE, THE MORE THE PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE IT.

Education and Knowlege is POWER, and Mexico lacks both of these, which makes them easy to control by Criminal Sindicates.

Este Payasos (Bozos) apenas quiere ganar los corazones y las mentes de la gente que opressing Y que ESTÁN CONTROLANDO. Son el emprender las relaciones públicas hacen campaña los campesinos incultos pobres dirigidos. Ésta es reclutamiento y DESINFORMACIÓN. El Narcos criminal quiere a la buena gente en su lado. CUANTO MÁS GRANDE ES LA MENTIRA, MÁS LA GENTE LA CREERÁ. La educación y el conocimiento es ENERGÍA, y México carece ambos éstos, que los hace fáciles controlar por Sindicates criminal.

Anonymous said...

This shit os funny.....whats next.....are they going to try to find the "infamous" templer treasure as well......What a joke!!!!!

Anonymous said...

These guys are the biggest sissies and attention whores out of all.... I wonder with what other stupid stuff the will come out next???

Anonymous said...

Ok they convinced me. I want to join this righteous group so bad now, seeing that every picture of a captured "templario" looks like a drunk/inbred/worthless/raunchy/vagrant POS!! Yeah, i want to join a group of the lowest life there is on planet earth. These guys are jokes. They would not stand toe to toe with any MAN and fight one on one, or even look at a MAN wrong if they weren't around their "brothers" or with their weapons. I would slap the taste out of their mouth.

Anonymous said...

You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig - or in this case a piece of shit cabalyero.

They have rules, how wonderful. This guy Tuta must be a piece of work. Use the rules in the Bible you asshole. No, he wants to impress everybody.

Makes me puke. CT are criminals, murderers. They manufacture and sell death (meth). They extort and kidnap.

Death to CT.

file hosting review said...

okay I have a couple of thoughts on this...

Who knows why people stand behind groups like this. Ohhh maybe because the Zetas are chopping their families into peices.

In a way, kinda like living in prison. You pick a gang (probably by race) and you stick with those people. If you don't, you're a target. Then theres the informants/narcs who often end up beat down or dead..

I would probably pick a group too... instead of stand around while the government of mexico watches as the zetas cut off my F* head.

I don't live in Mexico, but I'm sure there are reasons for everything.

You can't blame zetas, you cant blame CT, you can't blame the gulf or sinaloa cartels. The United States Drug market is big money. So if you could make big money and feed yourself/your family, would you? Or would you not sell drugs and work on a farm for next to nothing..

If I lived in mexico I would probably do whatever it takes to get by, shit I'm not going to just sit around and starve or raise my family in poverty..

Hell if I had to pick between letting my family suffer from poverty, dirt poor all my life, or kill a man... I would kill a man.. straight up

don't hate the player hate the game

its a messed up world out there, sad but true.

Ardent said...

I am not defending the Caballeros Templarios at all now when I ask this... But how many of the multiple BB bobos who have commented about this group through the months on BB have ever stepped even a second into Michoacan, Mexico in their entire lives? In short, do any of you have the slightest idea of what you are talking about when you write your many bird droppings about the Templarios, who come out of Michoacan soil?

Also, this Associated Press article mentions the connections and origens of the Knights Templares messaging with an American Right Wing Christian evangelist named, Eldredge See the passage below....

'Named for a medieval Roman Catholic order of religious warriors who fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem, Knights Templar is a splinter group of La Familia, another cult-like cartel whose leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, published a motivational pamphlet called "The Sayings of the Craziest One."

While La Familia claimed strict codes of conduct among its members, including prohibiting using or selling drugs within Mexican territory, it didn't distribute its booklets publicly. The contents of its "bible," reportedly based on the teachings of U.S. evangelist John Eldredge, have never been revealed by authorities. The cartel became one of Mexico's major sources of methamphetamine.'

So here now i we continue to wikipedia for some info about John Eldredge's 'Christian teaching' activities inside the US....

'While living in Los Angeles Eldredge was looking for a "worldview." After exploring other religions, Eastern mysticism, Lao-Tzu, and New Age spirituality, he discovered the writings of Francis Schaeffer (another Far Right theologian), whom he calls one of the best philosophers of the 20th century. Through Schaeffer, Eldredge came to Christ and later to the church. He eventually got a master's degree in counseling and practiced in Colorado Springs before working for Focus on the Family.'

It seems that Eldredge, the US Christian evangelist, so tied up with La Familia's and Los Caballeros Templarios's 'theology', was/is? involved in the Right Wing Focus on the Family's evangelization here in Colorado Springs ultra conservative northside, right next to the Pentagon temple known as the US Air Force Academy, and also very close by to NORAD and the NORTHCOM command centers located in Colorado Springs.

The Associate Press article also mentions how the Colombian Right Wing death squads connected with US military advisors in their activities in South America, also had a similar 'theological' evolution as to that of La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarioss. Interesting seeing the many tentacles of US political, religious, and military involvement here throughout.

Anonymous said...

And because they are so unsophisticated and have no respect for anyone's property - they just flat steal Mr. Chum's paintings for their own use.

You have to get permission to use others art. You got a rule about that in your pathetic little book? Tuta was a school teacher. No wonder there are so many screwed up children in Michoacan.

Anonymous said...

So i guess this is their "little red book"

Anonymous said...

jaja they looking for the holy grail

Anonymous said...

So ardent's beef is that you can't be critical of CT unless you have been to Michoacan and have a thorough understanding it's people and culture?

That is ardent's usual pseudo-analysis combined with his usual condescending, absurdist style.

I don't think you need to be run over by a truck to figure out that it's a very bad idea.

Anonymous said...

i dont undersand how they say there sopost to protect us but they dont they should think of all the mothers that r crying in this exact moment for there children that r kidnaped and are inocent

Anonymous said...

Ardent favors Los caballeros templarios wow now that's just dumb at least choose one of the most dominant cartels Sinaloa,zetas,beltran,carillo,gulf. Those caballero templarios are about done when it comes to drug trafficking if zetas stage an offensive on them with the backing of leyvas from Guerrero and Morelos those caballero guys are done.So what if were not from michiocan that doesn't mean we don't know whats happening.There's nothin special about michiocan or this michiocan criminal group other then if chapo didnt support them they would of probably been finished by zetas awhile back.

Anonymous said...

This guys should seriously think of abandoning there criminal backgrounds or lives and start fresh,I mean they got they're own bible
Now books haha why not build their own church,ooh thats right maybe they already have. Ha ha this cartel looks like it's trying to hard to get support from the citizens but cant.

Anonymous said...

Religion and violence, how surprising. Hail Mary full of grace.....hey, Bob, how many times do I have to tell you?.....Skin the head before you cut it off...

Anonymous said...

its obviously clear and simple to see that most of you who speak in a negligent manor about these factions or groups dont have a single idea or clue about them.
in no way shape or form do i approve of all the violence or activities they engage in,nor is it justified for that matter.
how ever,i find it funny how americans over look the fact they are the worlds largest consumer of drugs and look at mexico as if its to blame for all the corruption & problems.
those of you who have been to mexico or have relatives in mexico know the people do not like what is going on in that country period.
if every cartel would imply guidlines that have the same code of conduct less innocent people would fall victim to the number one buisness in mexico "drugs" that america consumes.
so keep pointing fingers but america has just as much to be at fault for.
illegal flow of guns to mexico that flare violence & the worlds leader of consumption of illegal drugs !

Anonymous said...

I've been to Michoacan many times, Ardent, and found it to be both beautiful and, at times, dangerous. Morelia is particularly scary, but this Templar stuff is hilarious! I see there would have been nothing to fear, if only I'd had the Super Secret Unabridged Code of Ethics Book-Michoacan Edition. And a shining knight on a white steed!
Imjustagirl

Anonymous said...

@ LB
Mercado libre won't ship to US do you'll have to go down to michoucan to get one

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that La Tuta is in possession of the holy grail can anyone confirm

Ardent said...

It's the countryside of Michoacan that is 'scary' and not the capital city of the state so much at all, Ima.

'Anonymous 5:16 said...
Ardent favors Los caballeros templarios wow now that's just dumb at least choose one of the most dominant cartels Sinaloa,zetas,beltran,carillo,gulf.'

The silliness on BB just never seems to stop!

ajulio said...

once again, an annoying extension coming from the hypocrites of la familia. i laugh at the knights templar, a bunch of indians who fantasize themselves to a historical christian military order from the crusades. these fools then have the audacity to pass out lil' books of moral conduct, teaching people how to properly behave while they themselves act as murderers and drug dealers. no other cartels abuse the propaganda machine more than la familia. the world would be a much better place without these fools.

the knights of templar are a big joke. just a bunch of losers who give the other cartels a bad name. they share a closer relation to the charles manson cult then they do to the sinaloa cartel. if it looks like a piece of shit and smells like a piece of shit then it's gotta be a big piece of shit.

there's some good words of conduct for you.

ajulio said...

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TO THE RESCUE!!!

(LMAO!)

Anonymous said...

@July 20, 2011 6:08 PM

Your writing like it is MUST to smuggle drugs to US. And same time it seems that you understand it gives problems to your country.

Do something to stop those smugglers, US gets it's drugs then from somewhere else. Maybe from it's own labs, maybe straight from somewhere else.

It's your countrys disability and greediness what's problem. And your peoples scaryness. Why did u let things to this point? Oh yeah, you don't fucking care about your future, it's nice to have some more money right now. Like a fucking children.

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said

The Cababalleros Templarios code of conduct?
A nights templar narco camp was busted not to long ago it was full of pornography porno magazines all over the place. Aren't this people religious?. They do sell drugs in Mexico and they also steal from innocent people. I think real code of conduct is Me Myself and I and fuck every body else.

Ovemex said...

Here are actual page by page fotos of the code posted in Milenio..You can zoom in on each page to read it.

http://www.milenio.com/media/079e/952eaec56ba161c21f07b7cecbf2079e.jpg

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said

Thank you Overmex I read the code of conduct.
Now my question is if this code of conduct is real, then who has been doing all the criminal abuses against humanity including theft and damages to peoples properties in Michoacan?
Maybe I'm wrong but I heard to many busyness have closed because extortion all around Edo de Mexico.

ajulio said...

Yeah THANX Ovemex. You always provide us with valuable information. You are a great reporter.

BUGGS, Ovemex and Gerardo. The last of the mohicans.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"CT should join the Democrat party in the USA"

Ha! Democrats don't believe in God

Anonymous said...

The irony the CTs are about to be part of lol. I wonder if they know that the original knights templar were blown out of extinction to put it into simple terms lol.

"L"B said...

@ anon..

thats ok ..i will pass for now..just you get me one and keep it for me for later and maybe i will send a guy to pick it up from you ..ok?

"L"B said...

THE REAL KNIGHTS TEMPLARS.....IT ONLY TAKES ONE TO WREAK HAVOC....

EL GUERO CON OJOS DE HIELO

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/25/norway.terror.attacks/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

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