November 3, 2013
PGR Report ‘Uncovers’ Michoacan Mafias
A PGR (Attorney General) report lays out the histories and organizational structures of the mafias in Michoacan, a state that has been ravaged by a growing and demented violence. The report, drafted from reports by Cisen and Cenapi, mentions a curious meeting that took place in 2007. There, “La Familia” brought together 14 elected mayors and presented them with the bill for the money that it had contributed to their campaigns.
MEXICO, D.F. (Apro).- A meeting was held in November of 2007 in the Tierra Caliente (the “Hot Lands”) of Michoacan. The criminal organization “La Familia” brought together 14 mayors elected for the 2008-2011 term –today, many of them hold positions in the administration of PRI Governor Fausto Vallejo or serve as local or federal congressional delegates– and asked for payment for the financial support delivered to them during the electoral campaigns.
This is revealed in an unpublished report from the Mexican Attorney General (PGR; Procuraduria General de la Republica) about the the mafias that operate in Michoacan, which was drafted last year based on investigations by the National Planning, Analysis and Information Center for Combating Crime (Cenapi: Centro Nacional de Planeacion, Analisis e Informacion para el Combate a la Delincuencia), reports from the National Security and Investigation Center (Cisen: Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional) and ministerial statements, documents which this journal had access to.
According to the PGR report, 11 of the elected mayors were from the PRI party: Armando Medina Torres, from the Mugica Municipality; Roman Nava Ortiz, from Caracuaro; Francisco Villa Guerrero, from Nocupetaro; Reynaldo Cortes Sandoval, from Tzitzio; Francisco Gomez Olivos, from Acuitzio; Salvador Batista Garcia, from Tacambaro; Everardo Cruz Garcia, from Turicato; Rodomiro Barrera Estada, from Churumuco; Miroslava Meza Virrueta, from the municipality of Gabriel Zamora; Fernando Salomon Rosales Reyes, from La Huacana, and Marcelo Ibarra Villa, from Madero.
Also at the meeting were elected mayors not with the PRI: from Ario, Jorge Moreno Martinez, with the PAN-PVEM political alliance; PAN mayor Francisco Estrada Garcia, from Nuevo Urecho; and from Tumbiscatio, Adan Tafolla Ortiz, with the PAN-PRI-PVEM (political) alliance.
Proceso reviewed the history of the 14 mayors. Of them, only Medina Torres was arrested in May of 2009, in the “Michoacanazo” (a federal operation in which 11 mayors and PRD government officials were arrested, accused of collaborating with organized crime). He (Medina Torres) was released in 2011 and has been part of Fausto Vallejo’s state executive team since 2012; he is the director of the (Office of) Organization Liaison with the Secretariat of Governance.
Who Really Governs Michoacán
Arnoldo Rueda Medrano, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, Alberto Lopez Barron, Servando Gomez, “El Chango” Mendez, Gregorio Abeja Linares, Rafael Cedeno Hernandez, Gabriel Mejia Flores and Saul Solis Solis: The owners of Michoacán.
MEXICO, D.F. (Apro).– Of the 14 mayors mentioned in the report, one is deceased: Ibarra Villa, assassinated in 2008. Nava Ortiz, Villa Guerrero and Cortes Sandoval are currently not involved in public political activity.
In 2012, Gomez Olivos was sworn in as director of the Michoacan affiliate of the State of Mexico Political Group (Grupo Politico del Estado de Mexico) and (according to local press reports) brags about his friendship with Vallejo.
Bastida Garcia has had a rising political career: in April of 2012, he was the municipal liaison in Tacambaro for Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign, and in September of that year he was appointed state deputy director of Labor.
With respect to Cruz Garcia, it is known that he ran for delegate of the local congress, but he lost. Barrera Estrada had better luck: currently, he’s a federal congressman (his brother Gildardo is the mayor of Churumuco).
In September, 2011, the former mayor of Gabriel Zamora, Miroslava Meza, denounced that she had suffered several extortion attempts from a criminal organization: “They would call me to demand money, but I gave them nothing and after several calls, they stopped bothering me”, she told local media. In July, 2012, she was elected as alternate state representative to the federal (congress).
Rosales Reyes and Moreno Martinez are currently local “plurinominal” representatives. [“Plurinominales” are legislators who are elected based on the proportion of votes their party gets in a general election.– un vato]
During the “Michoacanazo” in May of 2009, it was rumored that Estrada Garcia was one of the persons arrested, a rumor he himself contradicted hours later. In January of 2010 he resigned from the mayor’s office “for health reasons”.
Genesis of Crime
Crime organizations in Michoacan developed in five stages after the second half of the 1990’s, according to the PGR report.
In the first stage, Carlos Rosales Mendoza, “El Tisico”, brought together small criminal groups for regional operations. In the second (stage), he allied himself with Cornelio Valencia, of the Valencia Cartel or Millenium Cartel (Cartel del Milenio), then dominant in the state, with operations in the U.S. via Nuevo Laredo, which is why it had ties to the Gulf Cartel.
In 2002, the third stage began. “El Tisico” broke up with the Valencias and Cornelio was arrested. That led Rosales to ally himself with Osiel Cardenas Guillen, leader of the Gulf Cartel. With “El Tisico” were Dionisio Loya Plancarte, “El Tio”; Nicandro Barrera Medrano; Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, “El Chango” Mendez”, and Nazario Moreno, “El Chayo”, whose wife, Maria Elena Loya, is the niece of Loya Plancarte.
“The addition of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez introduced the fundamentalist element into the organization”, the document points out.
The alliance with the Gulf Cartel had as its objective to “expel from Michoacan territory the organization of Los Valencia, which had among its principal activities the cultivation of marijuana and opium poppy (amapola)”.
In the document, it is noted that “El Chayo” and “El Chango Mendez” ran a security group under the control of the Gulf Cartel, known as the Twelve Apostles– led by Barrera Medrano– the precursor to “La Empresa” (“the Company”), from which “La Familia” arose.
(The report) details: In 2002, “La Empresa” arose, founded by “El Tisico”, “El Chango Mendez”, “El Tio”, Barrera Medreano and “El Chayo”, in addition to Arnoldo Rueda Medina, “La Minsa”. “Its members were involved in crimes against health [drug trafficking] and at the same time carried out associated illegal activities, such as homicides, extortion, unlawful deprivation of freedom in the modality of kidnapping and abduction (“levanton”)”, it points out.
Cardens Guillen was arrested in 2003. In the document, the PGR claims that “El Tisico” was the most viable candidate to replace him.
“La Familia” is born
The fourth stage began with the arrest of “El Tisico” in October, 2004, when he was planning an assault on the Almoloya prison to rescue Cardenas.
“In 2006, differences arose between La Empresa and the Golfo-Zetas organization, possibly due to disagreements about the distribution of the plazas that the Zetas controlled, which seriously affected this alliance of convenience”, the report adds.
La Empresa became independent and opened the door to the new organization: La Familia. The document asserts that its structure “derives from a project of concentrating illegal enterprises (hijacking vehicle transports, kidnapping, drug and weapons trafficking, etc.) on a local and regional scale in the state of Michoacan.”
The first “high level incursion” by this organization took place in September, 2006, in Uruapan, when gunmen (“sicarios”) dumped five heads on the dance floor of the Sol y Sombra night club along with a message: “La Familia does not kill for money, it does not murder women, it does not kill innocents; only those who deserve to die. Let all people know that this is divine justice.”
During this period, Servando Gomez Martinez, “La Tuta”, joined the organization. He was a professor living in Apatzingan.
The fifth stage developed after the absence of “El Chayo”, who supposedly died during a confrontation with Federal police in December of 2009. “Although there are indications that it happened a little before that, due to differences between Moreno Gonzalez and Jesus Mendez Vargas”, the PGR report indicates.
The “Caballeros Templarios” announced themselves on March 10, 2011, with mantas and flyers distributed throughout various municipalities (counties) in Michoacan and Guerrero. In the messages they stated that after that date, they would continue the “altruistic” activities that had been the banner of La Familia.
“This criminal group imitates the religious evangelical fundamentalism that had been used by Moreno Gonzalez to control his membership and to project himself socially. Likewise, it governs itself with a document titled Codigo de los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacan (Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan)”, the PGR document states.
Despite the fact that the group has supposedly provided protection to the people of Michoacan, “it has continued the operational line of its predecessors:… executions, extortion and kidnappings, as well as fomenting the introduction of minors into the drug market”, affirms the document.
Since 2011, Los Caballeros Templarios have maintained a dispute with the remnants of La Familia for management of the bases, the control of supplies for the production of synthetic drugs and the trafficking of drugs to the United States.
“They have a strong presence in Michoacan and to a lesser degree in the states of Guanajuato and Guerrero, this through a variety of criminal activities: extortion of businessmen and businesses; executions, abductions and activating social support movements to confront federal forces”. It is noted that it also has a presence in the state of Mexico, Jalisco, Baja California and Colima.
According to the report, the groups that today are fighting over Michoacan are La Familia, Los Caballeros Templarios, La Resistencia and the CJNG (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion).
The upsurge of violence in the state is because the CNJG began to attack the Caballeros Templarios in Tancitaro, Zinapecuaro and Lazaro Cardenas in an effort to take their place.
It is claimed that “the fracture and arrest of the leader of La Familia was also a factor in the development of the activities by La Resistencia, which was … made up of factions of the Gulf (Cartel), La Familia and Milenio”. It adds that La Resistencia has now formed an alliance with Los Zetas.
According to the PGR, before the arrest of “Chango Mendez” (on June 21, 2011), La Familia seemed to have the lead over Los Caballeros Templarios. “Today, the (latter) organization appears more solid”, it indicates.
In the document drafted in 2012, it is asserted that “so long as this confrontation continues, the indices of violence and extortion will increase, because both sides require sources of financing”.
Displacing the state
According to the documents consulted, La Familia “has been characterized by the establishment of networks of institutional protection, mainly by elements of the State Police, through bribes, pressure, threats and even physical assaults on police officers to force them to cooperate with them, with the objective of securing control over territory and all the illegal activities in the area, as a means to undercut institutional structures and maintain its penetration in society”.
It states that, to penetrate institutional structures, La Familia took two actions. First, “it aimed initially to co-opt the secretaries or chiefs of the Municipal Police (agencies) to have at its disposal a network that allowed free passage and impunity in the commission of criminal activities, or, in extreme cases, the establishment of security mechanisms parallel to the institutional ones and charging fees for that service”.
The second “consisted of aiming to gain control of municipal power through various means, mainly through intimidation of local authorities, and they used everything from extortion to direct attacks that caused the deaths of some council members or other members of the governing councils”.
It is asserted that a precursor action in the “schemes to co-opt” was precisely that meeting in Tierra Caliente called by La Familia, attended by the 14 mayors already mentioned, who were presented with the bill for the money they got during their election campaigns.
“Currently, this group has become a criminal organization that acts like a parallel State in a large part of Michoacan’s territory, and, among other activities, it engages in: extortion of financial enterprises, several attacks on police agencies and directly against authority figures, control of lesser criminal groups.. and the development of community projects”.
In addition to co-opting Michoacan authorities, La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarios need new troops. Both organizations have in effect “an open and permanent invitation for any citizen who wants to join the group”. The majority of the candidates are young addicts, alcoholics or homeless persons. They are first deceived by teaching them “social and ethical values through the spirit of sacrifice and messianic (messages)”, then they are forced to commit crimes.
“In February, 2010, it was learned that La Familia had established its own rehabilitation clinics for addicts in more than six towns located on the Michoacan coast, including its shelters called “Gratitude”, where they attracted drug addicts through religious programs. Once they were free of drugs, they were advised to work as drug traffickers or, if they refused, they would be murdered”, claims the document.
“The patients would be taken to retreats where they would receive lessons on morality. However, as the treatments progressed, these practices would be transformed into brain washing for future criminals”, it adds.
The report reveals that Rafael Cedeno Hernandez, “El Cede”, arrested in Morelia on April 18, 2009 — he was the director of the Gratitude Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center and was accused of being “El Chayo’s” right hand –, presumably “recruited more than 9,000 youths in 2008, although it is not know exactly how many of them came from the rehab clinics”.
The difference between La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarios and other criminal organizations is that the former organizations supposedly teach its members evangelical and self help precepts. Nazario Moreno, who acted as “spiritual leader, preached a divine right to eliminate his enemies, and carried a bible with his own thoughts and ideas”.
Recently, it has been learned that La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarios have begun to go to schools to attract students.
La Familia and Los Caballeros Templarios “have established their presence in the municipalities (counties) of Acuitzio, Aguililla, Angamacutiro, Alvaro Obregon, Apatzingan, Aquila, Ario de Rosales, Arteaga, Brisenas, Buenavista Tomatlan, Caracuaro, Charo, Churumuco, Coahuayana, Cuitzeo, Gabriel Zamora, Huandacareo, Huetamo, La Huacana, La Piedad, Lazaro Cardenas, Maravatio, Morelia, Mugica, Nocupetaro, Nuevo Urecho, Parqacuaro, Patzcuaro, San Lucas, Tacambaro, Taretan, Tzitzio, Tumbiscatio, Uruapan, Zamora and Zitacuaro”.
Also in Puruandiro, Villa Morelos, Jose Sixto Verduzco, Panindicuaro, Penjamillo, Turicato, Nueva Italia, Tancitaro, Paraqcho, Nahatzen, Cheran, Charapan and Tanhuato.
The CNJG has a presence in Tepalcatepec, Marcos Castellanos, Jiquilpan, and Ecuandureo.
Which is to say, organized crime has a presence in at least 54 of the 113 municipalities in Michoacan.