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Mexico working toward all-out fight against Knights Templar

Mexican authorities are legalizing vigilantes. They are giving uniforms and assault rifles to willing farmers, fruit pickers, factory hands, and field laborers in an effort against the Knights Templar —Guard of Michoacán drug cartel, which is based in the Mexican agricultural state of Michoacán.

The unstoppable fighting between community militias and  Knights Templar has put Peña Nieto in a desperate situation.  He has dispatched thousands of troops to the Pacific coastal state's lowlands.
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Proud of their new patriotic status, the novice government employees sang the national anthem at a formal swearing-in ceremony.

♫Gird, oh country, your brow with olive
the divine archangel of peace,
for your eternal destiny was written
in the heavens by the hand of God.

But if some strange enemy should dare
to profane your ground with his step,
think, oh beloved country, that heaven
has given you a soldier in every son.

Mexicans, at the cry of war,
prepare the steel and the steed,
and may the earth shake at its core
to the resounding roar of the cannon. ♪ (For full anthem, click here.)

Knights Templar

The leader or figurehead of the Knights Templar is Nazario Moreno González, aka "The Craziest One." Allegedly, he considers himself a god and has contaminated Catholic teachings in order to brainwash the ignorant downtrodden into killing machines. Reported to have died in gunfire, some believe he is still alive.

The motto of meth-trafficking Knights Templar is to “fight and die” for “the cartel," and Mexican citizens have felt the vicious result of that cult-like vow.

Miguel Patiño, the Archbishop of Michoacán, wrote an open letter of rebuke this past January. Excerpted:

"We ask that the politicians, the government, the interior minister give the towns of this area clear signals that they really want to stop this killing machine.

"The people expect a more efficient action from the government against those who are causing this chaos."

As local police failed to protect several communities, the newly "deputized" vigilantes bring new hope but also a new fear. There is concern that the new vigilantes could transform into a menacing paramilitary force. Some see the opportunity for infiltration by cartels and for other criminals to pose as vigilantes.

That was the case for Colombia in the 1980's. Paramilitaries began as militias paid to defend communities from leftist guerillas, and instead they themselves were lured into becoming drug trafficking gangsters.

See also: Bishop speaks out against violence spawned by cult-like drug cartel "Knights Templar members have been known to wear ceremonial white cloaks with red crosses and to spread Moreno's religious writings as gospel. Hundreds of them used to convene to hear their leader's multi-hour sermons. But they are also brutal killers and methamphetamine dealers who extort everyone from big corporations to street vendors throughout Michoácan, according to residents and government officials."

Authorities thwart assassination attempt on Bishop of Apatzingán "...members of the Federal Police defused an alleged plan by the 'Knights Templar' to assassinate Apatzingán bishop, Miguel Patino after receiving information via satellite that 'Knights Templar' planned an attempt on the bishop's life. This threat followed a public complaint by the bishop on Oct 16 in his Pastoral Letter saying that the valley of Tierra Caliente Apatzingán is under the control of organized crime. 'there are increased kidnappings, abductions, killings, the collection of 'quota' is widespread and entire families have emigrated by fear and the insecurity we are living.'"

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