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Knights Templar Gang Handbook Requires Drug Testing No Killing for Profit

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

It seems one gang has got some ethics: An organized Mexican crime group known as the "Knights Templar" is distributing pamphlets – booklets demanding respect for women and children, drug testing for members, and a rule against killing for financial gain. Mexico's federal police have a problem with a cult-like cartel modeling itself after a medieval, European order whose members were executed in 1307.

The "Knights Templar" group which has been deemed itself responsible for murders, extortion, drug trafficking -- and attacks on police officers and law enforcement -- is sending out an appeal. While the Mexican government claims to have taken out major drug traffickers, there's literature going out the gang that's trying to transform a drug cartel into a social movement.

Longtime analyst of the drug trade in Mexico Jorge Chabat says: "I think the main intent is to create a social base in Michoacán ... and that way they are different from other criminal organisations."

Not surprisingly, the brochure isn't exactly a long read: The "Knights Templar" handbook is just 22-pages, titled: ‘The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacán’. For those who prefer graphics to words, the handbook is complete with illustrated knights on horseback.

The basis: The handbook or 'guide' of sorts says the "Knights Templar" group ‘will begin a challenging ideological battle to defend the values of a society based on ethics.’ -- and its pocket-sized.

It's not an old group -- at least not in Mexico. In Europe it goes back over 700 years. But, in Mexico, the "Knights Templar" was founded in March 2011. The artist for a website of a company selling swords and another promoting the 2007 Swedish film ‘Arn: The Knight Templar’ will be glad to know those illustrations have been 'lifted' -- for good purpose. The "Knights Templar" gang is named after a medieval Roman Catholic order of religious warriors who fought Muslims for control of Jerusalem. And it's a splinter of "La Familia" another drug cartel that throws a bit of cult in the mix. "La Familia" leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez published some written materials himself -- a pamphlet titled, ‘The Sayings of the Craziest One.’ No one argued it wasn't aptly named.

"La Familia" demanded order and strict codes of conduct. Gang members were prohibited from using drugs -- or selling them within Mexican territory. Those guides were on the down-low: "La Familia" never publicly distributed booklets related to the cult-like drug gang. Supposedly that cartel 'bible' is based on teachings of U.S. evangelist John Eldredge -- but its contents have never been revealed -- by authorities or anyone else.

The "La Familia" drug cartel rose to become one of Mexico's biggest providers of methamphetamine. And Mexico wants to claim that family is gone. The Mexican government says the gang's been unraveled after "La Familia" leader Moreno was killed during a shootout last December with police. Co-founder Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was arrested in Mexico June 2011. So that should be the end of it. Or not so fast.

Fatalities and murders have continued in Michoacan -- with "Knights Templar" assailants battling both the Zetas cartel and remnants of La Familia turf and control of President Felipe Calderon's home state. It's been a nasty battle: More than 35,000 people have died in drug-related violence across Mexico in less than five years -- since the crackdown on organized crime began. And that number may be off by more than 10%-percent. It could be more like 40,000.

The basis for President Calderon's head-on fight with the drug cartels was to prevent organized crime from rooting in Mexico's society. The "Knights Templar" seems to have found its angle -- with claims to be highly religious. It's sending its message out to the general public and advertising with posters and banners -- even medieval robes.

The gang pamphlet promotes ideas like: "A man with ideas is strong, but a man with ideals is invincible'" and "God is the truth and there is no truth without God."

So where is the pamphlet being distributed? The same spot all good cult-like materials are derived: in a public place. A man says two men dressed in regular clothes gave him a copy of the "Knights Templar" pamphlet in rural Michoacan. Then they got off that public transport.

The pamphlet says cartel members ‘must fight against materialism" -- and show respect for women and children. That fight against material things bars gang members from killing for money or financial profit and prohibits drug use: "For all members of the ['Knights Templar'] order, the use of any drugs or any hallucinogen is strictly prohibited."

Taking it up a notch, gang members are drug-tested.

And it's being effective -- at least in using people: A public demonstration last week in the Michoacan city of Apatzingan saw a group of people chanting "Federal police, get out!" while young guys wore t-shirts with slogans like "100 percent Knights Templar".

Government security spokesman Alejandro Poire claims "there is no criminal propaganda that can weaken the efforts of federal forces."

Mexico's police have confiscated copies of the booklet that preaches loyalty to family and country, banners, trucks emblazoned with Templar ‘shields' -- and even robes. It seems the gang is using white robes with red crosses like the ones worn by the original Knights Templar order. The gang better hope it doesn't go the way of the original "Knights Templar" -- booted out of Europe years ago, when it was outlawed in Europe, with members executed and the order dismantled.


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