Photo: Knights Templar Distributing "Code of Conduct" Propaganda Booklets
The Knights Templar gang, a breakaway faction of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel based in the Mexican state of Michoacán is distributing booklets claiming that they are fighting a war against poverty, tyranny and injustice.
The group, blamed for murders, extortion, drug trafficking and attacks on police, are appealing to citizens in a part of the country where the government claims to have largely taken down major drug traffickers.
The 22-page booklet is titled, “The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan.”
Analysts say the booklet is being used as propaganda as a means of transform a drug cartel into a social movement, much like the right-wing paramilitary groups did in Colombia in the 1990s against leftist rebels. A fight in which the Associated Press noted that both sides used the drug trade to finance their causes.
Though the Knights Templar, like La Familia, claim to be extremely religious, the cartel began distributing its teachings to the general public with colorful, eye-catching posters, banners, emblems, and even medieval robes.
A passage from the booklet reads, “God is the truth and there is no truth without God, ” and goes on to say cartel members “must fight against materialism,” and must not kill for money, and states that “for all members of the order, the use of any drugs or any hallucinogen is strictly prohibited.”
The cartel has criticized federal police for not protecting the people of Apatzingan, Michoacan, where the people shouted, “Federal police, get out!” and where some young people made shirts saying, “100 percent Knights Templar.”