Certainly one of Mexico's most communicative organized crime groups, Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights of Templar), have become well known for distributing their word through narcomantas. These messages often accompanying dead bodies of rivals are most typically directed towards rival groups, but also to the bemused civilians of their home state of Michoacan. Though many messages have appeared hanging from pedestrian bridges in neighboring states of Jalisco where they continue to fight Los Zetas, and Guanajuato, Guerrero, Queretaro and Mexico too. As always, depending on the situation, messages are left to inform, denounce, clarify, deceive, confuse, implicate rival criminals, corrupt politicians and merely to ask for support from communities.
This past year, among the narcomensajes from Knights of Templar, was the notable series which cropped up in municipalities of Guanajuato and Queretaro calling for a truce in Guanajuato in order to properly and peacefully welcome the Pope to Leon in March. April brought unusual messages claiming the group's responsibility for the apparent reduction in food prices. Summer found typically confounding mantas with dead bodies left for Los Zetas. Narcomantas confirmed El Taliban was with CDG. Knights of Templar repeatedly asked for help ridding Mexico of Los Zetas in October while declaring 'Lazca is dead', and calling on citizens to denounce and eliminate Z-40. They declared Z-40 "Most Wanted, One message even declared they knew where Z-40 was. In late October/ early November they were expressing 'solidarity' with civilians of Guerrero assuring them the threats again were not against them as citizens, but rather against members of Los Zetas cartel, who they repeatedly referred to as "cancer." Before the departure of President Calderon from office, memorable narcomantas were hung bidding him farewell and wishing him well, followed by one soon after revealing their agreement with PRI,. These are, of course, just some of them. Most recently, a few days ago, the Knights of Templar hung narcomantas welcoming Mexico's new president. They've been busy fighting and killing police yesterday in Michoacan and Jalisco.
A series of banners signed in the name of the Knights Templar gang were hung in west Mexico, welcoming President Enrique Peña Nieto to office and declaring that the group will lay down arms if he complies with its demands.
The banners, known as "narcomantas," were discovered early on December 19 in the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) stronghold of Michoacan state and neighboring Guanajuato. They began by giving Peña Nieto the "warmest welcome," offering to work in support of the government in its efforts to rid Mexico of the problems left by the previous president, Felipe Calderon, reported Quadratin.
The message continues: "If you (Peña Nieto) do what you promised during your tour of the country, we will give up our weapons and leave [Mexico's] security in your hands," warning that if this is not done, they will continue to "protect" their land, reported Tiempo.
The content of the message are not out of the ordinary for propaganda enthusiasts the Knights Templar. Before Calderon left office on December 1, there were similarly conciliatory message from the group bidding him farewell and wishing him the best for the future.
The offer of laying down arms is not to be taken seriously. The Knights Templar tries to portray itself as a defender of the people, working to rid Michocan of the "scourge" of other cartels, but it is engaged in an array of crimes from drug trafficking and extortion to homicide. Regardless of whether Peña Nieto follows through on the promises alluded to in the message, the gang is very unlikely to abandon its profitable criminal enterprise so willingly.
What's more, Peña Nieto's recently announced security strategy is unlikely to change much in the way the government goes about tackling crime in the country, appearing to be more or less a continuation of Calderon's policies.
The banners should be seen, therefore, as little more than an attempt to distract attention from Knights Templar criminal operations and gain public support.