Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Knights Templar" Enter Mexican Drug Wars?

The western Mexican state of Michoacan has a new drug gang to deal with: a group calling itself the Knights Templar. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but irony can be woefully depressing in the hands of ignoramuses.

According to an Associated Press story today, a series of banners appeared across the state on Thursday announcing the group, less than a month after the La Familia drug cartel supposedly disbanded.

From the AP story:

The signs said the "Knights" will replace the cartel, which is considered Mexico's leading trafficker of methamphetamines, and fend off any other gangs looking to make inroads in Michoacan state.
"To the people of Michoacan, we inform you that starting today we will be carrying out here the altruistic activities previously realized by La Familia Michoacana," read one sign, hung on the fence of a school.

"We will be at the service of the people of Michoacan to attend to any situation that threatens the safety of Michoacanos," it continued. "Our commitment is to: keep order; avoid robberies, kidnappings, extortion; and protect the state from possible (interventions) by rival organizations. The Knights Templar."

There was no immediate comment from police, who quickly removed the banners hung from footbridges, in a public square, on a monument and elsewhere in cities including the state capital of Morelia, as well as in Zitacuaro and Apatzingan.

Such signs are commonly used by drug gangs to threaten rivals, to deny responsibility for crimes or to send messages to authorities.

It is the first public mention of a group by that name, and the authenticity of the banners could not immediately be confirmed. The name alludes to a Christian order of knights founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade.

Somehow I suspect their "altruistic" motives will be anything but.

More than 35,000 people have died across Mexico in drug-related violence since December 2006.

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