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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vigilantes 'rehabilitate' gangsters

LA NOPALERA (Mexico) (AFP) - Under the watch of vigilantes, a pair of captured drug cartel henchmen mop the floors and cook in a dusty, sparsely furnished house in Mexico's unruly west.

The duo once worked as "hawks," or lookouts, for the cult-like Knights Templar gang that terrorized Michoacan, but they are now in the hands of civilian defense militias that have ousted the cartel from several towns.

The vigilantes, who are marking their one-year anniversary this month, came together to combat a cartel that they accused of murdering, kidnapping and extorting their populations in the lush agricultural state.

The civilian militias now say they want to "rehabilitate" the less-virulent, low-ranking former members of the Knights Templar, because punishing all would be a tall task in a state where the cartel was so entrenched in society.

The two young men held in La Nopalera, a town within the former gang-dominated municipality of Apatzingan, sleep on dirty mattresses in a ramshackle house they share with 10 vigilantes.
"The order is to hold them for three months under my watch and simply convince them psychologically that they have to take the correct path," said a vigilante leader who goes by the name Comandante Patancha.
"If they escape, they may not be pardoned," said the mustachioed man.
- No better option -

If they change their ways, however, they can return home or join the self-defense force, which could earn them $450 a month, close to what they earned with the cartel.
"If the Knights Templar were to catch us, they would kill us," said Manuel, who gave a fake name for fear of being targeted by his former employers.
"Now I don't have a better option than to help the self-defenses," the married, 25-year-old father of two said.

Manuel and his cohort Carlos, who also gave a fake name, say they are much better off with the vigilantes, who feed them and do not tie them up. They even receive weapons training.
When they worked for the cartel, they faced beatings and threats for underperformance.

The cartel sees itself as a righteous order defending Michoacan, indoctrinating its recruits with pseudo-religious literature inspired by the Christian crusaders.

Manuel and Carlos say they were captured by federal police and then handed over to the vigilantes.
The federal government has deployed almost 10,000 police and troops to Michoacan in a bid to curb the violence, and last month it struck a deal to legalize the growing vigilante movement.

The government says it has captured more than 300 people linked to organized crime, but the authorities have yet to capture Knights Templar leader Servando "La Tuta" Gomez.
Manuel says he joined the cartel because he was not earning enough picking limes in the Tierra Caliente ("Hot Land") region, Mexico's lime and avocado heartland.

But Carlos admits that, like many of his friends in Apatzingan, he was allured by the gang life, partly because it made it easier to woo women.
"You would see these armed guys walking around and nobody could say anything to them," the svelte 20-year-old said. "You wanted to be like them."

 - Can't banish all -

The Knights Templar gang once roamed Michoacan with impunity, riding in cars bearing their symbol, the Christian crusaders' red cross. Vigilantes have destroyed altars that had been built in honor of a Knights leader.
Estanislao Beltran, the spokesman for the self-defense militias, said towns in Tierra Caliente were "in complete collusion with the Knights Templar."
"Are we going to capture and banish all of them? Are we going to create ghost towns? What are we going to do?" he wondered, adding that some towns have formed citizen assemblies to decide the fate of captured gang members.

A vigilante in charge of a checkpoint in the town of Pinzandaro said the militias are getting help from members of a gang known as Los Viagras, who have broken away from the Knights Templar.
Self-defense leaders have been accused of having been part of organized crime groups. Federal officials have said that some vigilantes who were detained last year admitted to getting support from the Knights Templar cartel's enemy, the Jalisco New Generation gang.

But vigilante leaders say the agreement with the government that legalizes their movement, which calls for militiamen to join "rural defense" forces under the army, will allow them to purge their ranks of any cartel infiltrators.


  1. The templars dint terrorize civilians. They terrorize the gangs that try move in michoacan. And that happen to be rich people too.

    1. I'd probably believe you but those lemon pickers that were gruesomely murdered by the hands of the Templarios just don't look like a rival gang or rich to me. The Templarios need to go plain and simple!

  2. Written by AFP for the Daily Nation out of Nairobi, Kenya.

    Why don't you guys have the journalistic integrity to clearly list the author and source of the articles you post? That is the standard on blogs everywhere.

    I hope someone takes your "original" reporting and posts it under their name with no direct credit identifying the author/publication. Karma you know.

    1. @5:42 p.m u even know what website youre on? This aint CNN!! Did it ever occur to u that it might be too risky for them and their families to do so!!

  3. "Why don't you guys have the journalistic integrity to clearly list the author and source of the articles you post? That is the standard on blogs everywhere. "

    that is laughable. that aside link to the source and orginal article by DD's hyperlink..and THAT is the standard in many media outlets. one can write the source name or hyperlink to the article.

    no where did DD take credit for writing this

    1. I dont see no hyperlink

    2. Click on "source " in blue letters you moron that's the hyperlink

  4. The AFP attribution is plainly evident.

    The link takes the interested to ... The Daily Nation
    Where the author is AFP.

    What is interesting, this is an example of 'Truth Commission' of South Africa, on a 'small scale'.

    The Halocones admit their past actions, do some 'Community Service' and then get on with their lives.

  5. @ February 19, 2014 at 5:36 PM
    I know civilians who have personally been terrorized by the CT. It's normal to expect that members of the cartel would target even civilians, because it's a fact that they've been able to get away with it.

    @ dd
    First of all, thanks for the interesting article. I had not idea this rehab thing was happening!
    You mentioned "The cartel sees itself as a righteous order defending Michoacan." I think it's important to distinguish how the cartel sees itself, and how it brands itself. The CT know full well that they are not righteous, but they know that most Michoacanians are gullible enough to believe that they are righteous if they spin it from a "we're helping your family and community" perspective, especially if they're handing them money as they say it. They brand themselves as righteous, but they don't see themselves that way.


    1. Take away 100's of pesos thru all kinds of taxes and fees they charge businesses and give back a couple pesos here and there as good will. The people will buy it on just plain ignorance. Their just getting back their own money back at a fraction.

  6. Hey look at me ! I have a gay ass avatar that consists of a lame ass idiot holding a gun ! I'm so cool ! Also, damn that credit business is a bitch, huh ? Glad to see michoacanos doing the governments job in a much more efficient fashion ! El M Vergudo

  7. @11:46 i hate to tell you that, maybe, it is possible that there is a chance that like me, you don't know what an hyperlink looks like? why mess with technicalities beyond our reach? don't make chivis defend DD again, ok?

  8. That about the viagras is 100% true. I never wanted to say it on here, but to any of those who wondered where the first weapons came from, it was from "los viagras"

  9. @ 10:42

    can you tell me more about the viagras? we have a tip maybe they are holding or took the American kidnapped in michoacan

    1. Idk too much, just what an AD told me. Its ran by a few brothers at least the original members were brothers, i believe 4 of them & they would give AD's the weapons the Templars percieved "broken". Some of these were broken, however and older man somewhere in either one of these towns: los reyes, tepacaltepec or ruana would fix the weapons. Thats how the first weapons were obtained. Obtained through a faction of the templars that wanted to help the common man. The AD's however dont trust the VIAGRAS. At least from what I know. They just needed the weapons they supplied. My information is from late december so idk how cool both ad and viagras are with eachother now. I was actually suprised to read that an AD would say that though. It was supposed to be one of those unspoken secrets. Lol that im sure just about every AD knows. When i heard this info, a few months back viagras still hadn't broken away from ct yet, but so much could happen within that time. Idk if this is out in the open now that ct and viagras aren't together?

    2. However i was wondering if you could just not publicize my last comment, please? It was a comment about LOS Viagras. Haha youre probly like big deal but still, i shouldnt be commenting this.

  10. Hi Chivis,,

    just wanted to direct you to the fulano blog, which gives your site credit for good reporting. they have story on the increase in asylum requests coming out of michoacan and guerrero, and in the story, it states that alot of the people leaving those places are not only doing it because of the CT's, but also because the ADs are entering their homes and forcing them to join the ADs at gunpoint. it doesn't seem too farfetched considering that throughout history, rebel groups, even those with good intentions, start recruiting from the populace forcefully as they believe everyone should participate in the sacrifices they are going through to benefit the community....not saying this to excuse the CTs behavior, but to make you aware of some of the complaints by regular folks against ADs

  11. Its a little like the expression u cant turn a ho into a housewife as far as turning them into viable citizens go!

  12. @1:06 some autodefensas may be forcing some people join their little revolution, and maybe some people resent them more than the ct, the majority that chose to put up with the ct, are chosing now to be with the new sheriff in town, so, relax and enjoy it, you can't help it.
    On the other hand, the situation lends itself to badmouthing the AD now that the ct are no more the all so powerful criminals they have proven to be, to get refuge status in the US,which every mexican citizen should do.
    so we can't do much more than relax and see the circus from afar, and pray for the best, praying and blessings are said to be all you need...ooops, other revolutionary hippies said "All You Need Is Love", all they needed was money and said "give me money" in one of the most beautiful songs, ever, "Money".
    After the divorce, bitter John Lennon sang for Paul "Yer Blues" with the Dirty Mac,the song he composed for HIS Yoko Ono, in one of the most beautiful live appearances on the Rolling Stones Circus, and went on to "Imagine" all the people living life in peace...he was a dreamer but he knew he was not the only one, sometimes the dreaming is over, and the time to act arrives, before eternal rest, and people have to chose:
    lead, follow, or get out of the way.
    and we have to live and die with the consequences of our choices...

    1. If only life was so simple little man

  13. why are the Guerrero groups not getting any media coverage and distancing themselves from the autodefensas, who just embraced el abuelo into their midst, a known associate of the Valencia's/Milenio Cartel...where's Mireyes? ....seems ADs are working to restore Milenio's/CJNG back into power as the lesser of two evils. any word on the CT/BLO alliance to fight back?...the Guerrero groups seem more legit

  14. @5:02 the guerrero autodefensas are the official sponsored paramilitary that look after the interests of the caciques and the rich friemds of governor angelico rivero "el gavioto"; with his support, they move around the state of guerrero, doing the same crimes murders and atrocities they have always done, the people and campesinos, the indians, are not going to see any benefits from having any government sponsored paramilitary organization, called guardias blancas (white guards) when they protected US oil interests in tamaulipas/veracruz before lazaro cardenas nationalized oil in mexico, la barbie's grandfather was a white guard for large landowners in sinaloa, killing farmers that tried to take over the lands of his employers, no matter what the law and presidential edicts were.
    same thing in guerrero, the new owners of the tourist paradise are going to protect the hotels, beaches, private lands, water rights, mining caciques, etc.
    not the poor or the indians, no way jose.
    in michoacan, somebody must be sponsoring the AD, now with the help of the government that would not stick it to the ct that helped them rob and steal sicartsa for arcelor-mittal and recover the presidency that now the pri is using to sell away whatever is left of any worth in mexico, like gas deposits in tamaulipas area, and pemex, just like they sold away sicartsa to arcelor-mittal for pennies to the country and a few millions for a few stupid satraps, in colusion with the very same people that convinced the US that the US steel works was not good for america, "because of the unions".
    president george w bush did not call karl rove "thurd flower" for nothing...
    reganomics keep trickling down on the latin-americas every day more boldly let's remember when it all started to accelerate, because it all started before richard nixon got pelted with eggs in guatemala...right jayhawk?


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