Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Confronting The Knights Templar

Borderland Beat

From a desk overlooking the shady plaza of his backwater mountain town, Mayor Rafael Garcia recounts how he and other citizens finally mustered the nerve to take on the gangsters tormenting them.
“The problem started when they began messing with the population: extortion, rapes, killings," Garcia, 42, says of the Knights Templar, the fancifully named cartel of thugs who control many of western Michoacána state's 113 counties. "We were terrified. We are still terrified.”

“We are a very small town raising its voice,” he says. “Hopefully it will have an impact.”

Following the lead of two nearby counties, Coalcoman's people two weeks ago armed a makeshift militia with assault rifles and shotguns and drove the Templars out.

The gangsters responded by besieging the town from its outskirts. They set fire to trucks and cars trying to leave and attacked men working the forests and ranches.

Wielding a quasi-religious code of conduct and a cynical vow to defend communities against outsiders, the Templars are Michoacán’s latest incarnation of a deeply rooted and politically protected criminal culture.

The state has produced export-grade opium and marijuana for more than a century, churned out methamphetamine in recent times, and served as a key smuggling route for South American cocaine.

But this latest threat of impending slaughter proved a watershed, forcing President Enrique Peña Nieto to backtrack on vows to demilitarize Mexico's fight against its heavily armed and murder-minded gangsters.

He named an army general on May 16 to take control of Michoacán’s public security and deployed as many as 6,000 soldiers to the state with orders to disarm the militias and force the Templars to retreat.

 “I still don't understand how the government let this go on so long," Garcia says. "They didn't imagine the town would take up arms. The army is here because the people rose up."

Coalcoman joins a spreading movement across violence-plagued Michoacán and neighboring Guerrero state, where towns and villages have formed volunteer “community police” to depose corrupt local police and draw a line in the dirt against the gangs.

Similar but more poorly armed militias formed in late February in the towns of Buenavista Tomatlán and Tepalcatepec, forcing the mayors of both towns to flee and sparked deadly clashes with the Templars.

"It's not possible to continue living this way," Michoacán’s five Roman Catholic bishops declared in a call to action two weeks ago. "There is a permanent feeling of defenselessness and desperation. To that is added anger and fear because of the forced or voluntary complicity between authorities and organized crime."

Mexico's civil-war-like criminal violence began in Michoacán more than six years ago when then-President Felipe Calderon sent in the army to subdue La Familia Michoacána drug cartel.

The troops didn't stay long and the gangsters waited them out, returning stronger than ever. By one estimate, the Templars — who emerged several years ago as a breakaway faction of La Familia — now hold sway in nearly three-quarters of the state's counties.

The Knights Templar has become the state’s leading crime syndicate.
Click to enlarge-Map depicts the rapid spread of Knights Templar
As long as they stuck with the drug trade the Templars were tolerated and even admired by many here. But in recent years the gang's local cells began heavily extorting communities and business people, reportedly raping women at will and killing on a whim.

Local officials and police either cooperated openly with the Templars or felt themselves powerless to oppose them. State and federal officials reacted sporadically, their operations often sparking open combat and gangsters blockading towns and cities.

Extortion fees were collected as taxes, just as formalized but far more hazardous to evade, the Coalcoman mayor and other residents say. The Templars took 10 percent of municipal budgets, and similar cuts from cattle, lumber and lime producers. They levied taxes on meat, tortillas and other groceries and charged “protection quotas” from anybody they came across.

Residents and companies refusing to pay face the Templars’ wrath.

 Lumber yards, and fruit packing sheds and delivery trucks have been burned down, workers and citizens murdered. In April, gunmen twice attacked a convoy of lime growers and pickers who had traveled to complain to state officials about the extortion, killing 10 people.

For now the troops serve as peacekeepers, keeping Templars and militias separated but not really moving against either. The gangsters stay scarce, the militias keep their weapons out of sight but handy.

Most everyone expects the federal forces to pull out sooner rather than later. Then the troubles will begin anew.
Can vigilante justice save Mexico?

"We are very aware that they can return at any time,” said the leader of unarmed militiamen manning the checkpoint on the highway entrance to Buenavista Tomatlán. “We know lives will be lost, but we are ready for that. The people don't want any more gangsters in this area."
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The Templars and some federal officials have accused the militias of taking weapons and other support from a criminal cartel in neighboring Jalisco state, pointing to the assault weapons carried by many of the volunteers.

But Mayor Garcia in Coalcoman says local businessmen bought the weapons, though he won't say from whom.

"How are you going to fight these people, with slingshots?" Garcia asked in an interview Tuesday.

A sprawling county of just 10,000 souls, Coalcoman huddles near the Pacific coast in a valley surrounded by forested mountains a six-hour drive from Morelia, the state capital.

The area's independent-minded people work mines, cattle ranches and lumber mills. Coalcoman’s people long have had little use, or regard, for state and federal government.

Coalcoman earned a footnote in history for its fierce guerrilla resistance against occupying French soldiers in the mid-19th century.

A leftist guerrilla movement sprang up near here in the 1970s. Well-armed militias here again have set nerves on edge in Morelia and Mexico City.

“We are living this, we are fighting this in perhaps an old fashioned way," said rancher Misael Gonzalez, 48, a leader of Coalcoman's community police. "We are a grain of rice, but we are doing what we can."

Things are peaceful for now. Hundreds of soldiers and federal police man checkpoints on the highway leading to Coalcoman through Buenavista and Tepalcatepec. Armored troop convoys are about the only traffic on the road. Two propeller driven air force attack planes overflew the area last week in a show of force.

“Our fear is that days and months will pass and they will be here without finishing off the Templars," Mayor Garcia says of the troops.

“They haven't managed a single capture. We are not going to put down our arms. We are not going to drop our guard until this is resolved."

Meanwhile Garcia and his townspeople hunker down. The mayor says he sleeps in different houses every night, and doesn't dare leave town.

Should the Templars return, he says half-jokingly, he might be forced to seek asylum in the United States.. But Garcia stresses that he has few regrets about leading his town in confronting the gangsters.

"It's not about money any more. We were used to paying money,” he says of the Templars endemic extortion. “This is about honor and dignity.

“Either you serve God or you serve the Devil," Garcia says. "I am with the people.”


  1. God Bless you people for standing up tot he corruption. The US "if it had a brain in the whitehouse" whicj it does not unfortunately would bring our troops home and stand shoulder to shoulder helping Mexico with their massive drug cartel problem and simply clear any cartel member along the way. Unfortunately, it is all the "losers" in the US who are the cartels biggest customers. What the hell is happening to the world.

    1. Mexico hasn't asked us for military help. They don't want our military n there country. Colombia asked for our help and we sent special forces units and it helped alot

    2. Us as in United States?? The same Government whos supplying the firepower??

  2. Excellent article, very sad to have to live like this in this day and age. More should follow this lead. Says it all when he stated

    “Either you serve God or you serve the Devil," Garcia says. "I am with the people.”

  3. Bravo & mucha suerte, this story brought memories of Don Alejo Garza Tamez, who refused 2 turn over his ranch 2 the local cartel. He fought back & killed 4 & severely injuring two. He stood up against the evil forces ripping mexico apart. If a man in his 70' s took on the cancer spreading thru out mexico, then surely civilians can gather & protect there families & communities. The military can't be everywhere & all times & furthermore some cannot be trusted.It is a difficult & desperate situation. Mexico is @ war & the people need 2 be able 2 defend themselves.Mexico is lawless & defunct. In war times do what you have 2 do 2 survive. I hope the USA & other countries step in to eliminate & annihilated all the cartels. God bless & strengthen the good people of Mexico. As for the evil one's "GO TO HELL QUICKLY "

  4. These Knights have read history and have seen a few Monty Python movies, right?

  5. I am ahigh school student in Morelia, capital of Mich. I am not yet a grown working man, but from my perspective as a teenager, I feel there is large pressure from young females on young males to be part of organized crime like Los Templarios.
    The reason is that most Mexican women value nothing more than to be seen with a rich machismo. Girls in my school have said they hope their boyfriends will become Templarios because then they (the girls) will not ever have to work.
    I believe this problem is worse in Mexico than in any country further north, or south. We as Mexicans have helped create this crime culture by creating a society that worships money and status more than anyone (including the USA).
    We need to change this, or our Mexico will burn.

    1. Well put.. but you are not the only country that idolizes the wrong things.. for example, many girls where I'm from in US, like the "bad boy" or thug, gangsta, whatever you want to call it. And would rather be with a thug then a man who has education, manners, morals.. that's too safe and boring for those girls... another example, all these cartel cheerleaders on here saying who and who is in control or better. Its natural for people to glorify the forbidden or take risky behavior, but its a mistake nonetheless .. one that I hope these people realize before its too late. Girl thinks a thug is cool until he hits her, or leaves her pregnant. Cartel cheerleaders think they're cartel are good until they're the ones about to get their head chopped off, point is you do bad, you'll end up bad. In the column it states some people even admired the knights Templar, now look at them..

    2. A lot of things have changed in México but one thing that hasnt is the greed of money of the people this Goes back to colonial times everyonr only cares about a persona wealth and the government was just as corrupt as it is now

  6. @10:45PM
    Your comment is one that can be stated in any area of narco conflict in Mexico. A decade ago when I decided to establish my foundation headquarters in NE MX, narcos was a taboo subject for children. Over the years that has changed, children idolize, emulate, and speak of narco aspirations, to be one, or marry one. It seems that children accept the reality that for the 60% that live in poverty there is no option, no possibilities.

    It is not more prevalent in the south per say, it is prevalent where narco activity has permeated all things and where poverty is at the highest. I work from the north to the south borders, and central America.

    I would love to discuss further with you privately to learn more from you as a HS student. You can email me privately.



  7. sounds like afghanistan

  8. These idiots are quick to use a gun but they sure as hell dont like one pointed back at their coward asses.who in the hell would want to marry one of these losers? 6 billion ppl on the planet i would be tryin to find something else besides a narco

  9. Those kind of shallow and materialistic women are called...BIATCHES! And are usually good for two things: Nada and pura chingada! Hehe...

    The people of Mexico will rise?....We have already risen...slowly but surely...until ALL those narco fucks don't know what hit 'em...

    God Bless...

  10. El senor Chapo needs to end the Pact with Los KT .The KT like the Familia M and los Zetas (who created them) all attack the innocent population. Chapo needs to clean and take over these plazas. A mandar kilos y toneladas de coca y mota al USA pero no maten gente inocente no violen no cobren quotas no abusen de la poblacion dediquensen al Biznes !! Al estilo del CEO Chapo

    1. El Chapo® does not have as much power as you thank so, his just just a figure people could look up to and for the goverment to put the finger to . You'll be surprise how much power he doesn't have.So no, I don't thnk El Chapo® is capable of doing so.
      I'll tell you this tho. One's Mexico's economy Start's picking up(10-15 years from now) government well go after every narco family including the Guzman. So people this well not change any time soon, but I promise Mexico well have brighter days for are children to enjoy.

  11. Sad part about it is you cant shoot one in the head cause they wear them awesome helmets for protection.

  12. Heyy chivis thanks for the article but you forgot something this movement os self defense groups is spreading and actually the very first self defense group in mexico was the one in the commmunity of cheran michoacan. And others villiges in the area but in the south of michoacan is where right now as we speak thee real movement is happening it started in tepalcatepec and la ruana then buena vista tomatlan then coalcoman then chinicuila and as we speak aguililla ,aquila,coahuayana,cherato,los reyes,periban. And this will likelly keep on spreading if you want to know more go to the facebook. Page valor por michoacan which was inspired by valor por tamaulipas

  13. Knights Templare are a gang of thugs and lowlife criminals hence they should'nt be called a Cartel...La Tuta the Puta looks like a drug addicted scumbag thief.

  14. instead of getting the people on their side like Pablo e did, they are f ing their people!

  15. Surely everyone would applaud what these townsfolk are doing,imagine the frustration of these people?They have literally been forced into taking up arms,everyone here knows this is no joke,these people face serious danger and loss of life.
    I hope not one of these people are harmed,true Mexicans fighting for themselves against these dogs who prey on them,wouldn't it be good if we could help?Here are Mexicans,banding together to fight,i hope they win and not one of them is harmed in the process.

  16. no I think the real reason people "admire" groups such as these is because of media. look up drug/gang culture and narco culture. I guarantee if any of you ever met a person who idolize these rats. they will dress/behave a certain way. which is why I think the poverty argument is wrong there are millions of people who are poor yet the estimates of people involved in criminal orgs are in the thousands/hundreds.

  17. Yeah in the US we suffer from extortion. its called the government. we pay to allow these idiots to travel in jets, yachts, and have lavish vacations. we can't do a thing about its the right u gave up when becoming a US citizen!

  18. @8:14

    I realize that and of course I am aware of Valor Mich, but when this began because of templarios posing as community police I became frustrated and did not want to lead readers to something false. Now it is more defined and I have devoted much of my time hunting down stories and posting them. My "Caught Between the Crossfire" video narrative translation took me days to do but it is a labor of love.

    I work with the original community police the indigenous Zapatistas of Chiapas. My grandmother was Maya. SO I have a lot of love for the indigenous peoples, they are so persecuted and prejudice against. It took me 3 years to gain their trust. I wanted to build schools for them but finally we had a break through using a third party they trusted. I worry that my schools will be destroyed. People do not know that the Zapatistas have an agreement/treaty after the uprising but the government it continuing to steal and destroy their land, homes, and autonomous structures.

    In the Mexican constitution indigenous groups have a right to bear arms and defend themselves and land if the government fails to do so, BUT in some cases it is the government that is the perps.


    1. they gave the indegenous people those rights after the revolution against the gachupines unfortunately everyone else that got put in power is just as bad as they were. its still the criollos Who are the élite class in México Nothing has changed.

  19. PS

    If you or anyone would like to send me the locations of the community/auto defense groups I will make a map

  20. Glad to hear the people are standing up to these lowlifes, its not over yet, they will come back to show them who is in charge. Where is the damn government?

  21. Godbless you people of Michoacan. Out prayers are with you. Keep fighting! I'm writing a strongly worded letter to the Mexcian Consulate.

  22. I will pray for this man and his town, they deserve better.
    The only way to end this and I have never thought this is the best way, but the US Rangers need to go to town on these pathetic pieces of shit in the Narco community.
    And for all you losers that gonna say ohh look at Iraq or Afghanistan, US forces kicked the shit of those Talibans and Iraqi's before the Liberals got into power of Congress!

  23. @ June 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM
    @ June 11, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    I am also a student, in Guadalajara Mich (spent about 10 years in US though). And I am female. I agree very strongly with what you say, and would like to add to it. I agree with @11:26 that many girls place value on dishonourable qualities. I believe that happens everywhere in the world. I think the biggest difference is that here in Mex many PARENTS push their kids to think that a woman is worthless if she does not marry young to a rich man, and that likewise their sons are worthless if they are not rich. I find there is not the education or intellectual depth for them to take the step further of saying " long as the money is honest". They kind of ignore where the money comes from, as long as it makes the family look good. Same way so many people in Culiacan think El Chapo is a great guy because he buys them things.
    In the US we didn't have that shallow perspective on family honour, and the black and white idea of (young marriage)+(rich husband)+(many kids)=good, (anything else)=failure.
    That being said, there are some very sensible families here in Guadalajara. But not many.

  24. Marina need to a take no prisoners approach.
    Show no Mercy.
    Kill anyone affiliated with narco-terrorist gangs...

  25. I don't consider c.t a cartel there bullshitters not even the thugs on my block act like that.

  26. The c.t. Are making moves into the coast of guerrero and soon there will be community police here with check points on the carratera cause they keep getting closer but they dont know this town ... Its the one they should pass on by... They will see in weeks or less they will be here and we ALL are ready

  27. I'm from South-Africa nd I wish the good ppl of Mexico all the best,I've been reading the articles on Borderland Beat for 2 weeks now nd its the first time I'm commenting.I haven't watched the execution vids,I don't have the guts to watch it nd I'm sure I'd cry if I watched it.I feel for the ppl of Mexico who are suffering under the cartels,I can't imagine living in constant fear all the time.In South-Africa we feel for the ppl of Mexico nd u are in our prayers.

  28. That's true Caballeros Templarios shouldn't be part of the Federation.

  29. @ June 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM
    You're 100% right that the warped view that so many Mexicans have that men should "take care" of women contributes to crime. I have family in both Mex and the U.S., and my relatives in Mex start putting pressure on their daughters to start looking for a rich husband when they're in their early teens.
    Regarding young girls' liking criminals, I think peer cultural peer pressure is huge. In the U.S. most girls would avoid criminals because most of the culture recognizes they're bad. But in Mexico people don't tend to have that foresight. If the man has money, they don't think ahead to where it came from. It buys them jewellery, and that's good enough.
    Mexico is living in the stone age when it comes to male/female hierarchy, and the cartels know it and take full advantage of it!

  30. June 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM
    "They will see in weeks or less they will be here and we ALL are ready"
    Everyone here hopes all the best for you bro,lets hope you are not forced into taking this option by these dogs who call themselves Mexicans.You are Mexican bro,and we all hope you stay safe,you and your dearest.Support form up north bro,stay safe.


    Ye,ye,ye,warrior against your own people,you aint solving anything for them.

  33. Thanks bro ct is a terror group and they made michoacan a disaster now there making there way south thru guerrero but us on the coasta grande are prepping early cause we dont want our small town changed in a bad or should i say horrible way so we are putting major major efforts that when they come down this carratera they wish they wont and i personally will be up nice and high In my sniper bunker if youd like to call it that with my scope first an ak when they get closer i used to live in states and was a semi pro pistol an rifle sport competitor for 17 years as well as hunting of all sorts.. I know guys who can toss a quarter in the air an shoot it with a .22 rifle.. Thats how i grew up in the cold northern parts of usa so its game on

  34. This is common place - these murders - since they discussed (the cartels) about killing people and met with people from Greensboro North Carolina to help them like Decena of Los Zetas get access to victims. Their group along with persons here in Greensboro North Carolina have put together a torture program for me since 9-11 that has lasted over 10 years without any assistance from any law enforcement in North Carolina. Other states have helped in arresting the participants. They all Prince, Prinze, Carson, Martinez, Ramirez, Reyes, Barringer, and others simply have taken advantage of the violence and attacked everybody they want just like the Drug Cartel War. They obstruct, extort and obscure everything that they are doing so that they don't get arrested. The whole situation particularly with this group here using Electromagnetic Pulse Guns, Tasers and Lasers in Greensboro and High Point North Carolina is the LOWEST I have ever seen any group going - they have stolen houses, cars, credit cards and KICKED the S**T out of the elderly for even THINKING about living here. They are international - great countries like the Sudan, Somalia, and others who hate the US anyway and settle in to try and kill anyone possible if they can get a dime out of it.

    Settle back into the NIGHTMARE that the Cartels, Law Enforcement in multiple countries, THE LOWEST SCUM CRIMINALS possible and a bunch of people who won't do the RIGHT Thing have caused. PLUS 1.5 MILLION GANG MEMBERS in the US. GOOD LUCK. I have scars on my eyes, ears, neck, body from them BEATING me UP. They have damaged my car, my apartment, my clothes, stolen my computer, stolen my glasses, and still walk around to threaten me after reportedly killing my parents, tortured and killed my dog, taken their property, perjured themselves in court in north carolina, defrauded the state government, defrauded the federal government and they are STILL DOING THINGS. They ARE NOT EVEN A GANG!



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