The vicious Mexican cartel known as “La Familia” has made public a letter, where they offer to disband and turn themselves to the authorities, if the government promises to protect citizens in the state of Michoacán.
Officials from the Michoacan chapter of the federal Attorney General’s Office have reported that the one-page letter allegedly signed by the Mexican drug cartel “La Familia Michoacana” appeared on a “narco-manta” on an overpass and was dropped in the streets of a few towns in the state of Michoacan, as well as sent as an e-mail to reporters last Tuesday.
Authorities said they couldn’t immediately confirm the authenticity of the letter, but Ricardo Najera, spokesman for the federal Attorney General’s Office, stressed that “regardless of whether the message is authentic or not, the federal government does not make deals or negotiate with drug cartels.”
“La Familia” appears to have deep local roots and a vast network of civilian allies and sympathizers who adhere to the cartel’s set of rules that enforce family values; “La Familia” prohibits using (though not moving massive amounts and dealing) hard drugs, and strives to maintain an image of martyr-like struggle, sought to convince the public that the group is defending Michoacán (hometown of president Felipe Calderón) against other armed groups.
“We have decided to retreat and return to our daily productive activities if the federal and local authorities ... promise to take control of the state with force and decision,” read the letter, dated November 2010.
The letter said “La Familia” was formed in 2005 “by men and women from Michoacán ready to give their lives to defend their state ... against external gangs that, through terror and violence, have attempted to take over not only our state, but the whole country.”
Further into the letter, “La Familia” manifests their wish to protect Michoacán and its residents and promises to dissolve if federal police promise to act honestly and defend the state with their lives. “If the government accepts this public commitment and lives up to it, “La Familia Michoacana” will dissolve.” The gang’s decision to contemplate an eventual dissolution, was allegedly motivated by abuses against civilians from harassing authorities, as they conduct activities at the margin of the law in order obtain intelligence leads and put pressure on the cartel.
If the letter is to be believed, the expert consensus is that the cartel could be contemplating to shut down because it has simply run its course. Gary Hale, a retired DEA intelligence officer and founder of the Grupo Savant consulting firm, opines that “La Familia” could be trying to find a way to make money by less violent and legal means.
Jorge Chabat, an expert on drug trafficking of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), said the group could also be suffocating from financial difficulties, and the letter is their way to catch a breath: “This is a way to negotiate out of a business they’re stuck in, with no greater cost to them,” he said, and it could be a sign that the group is trying to use the public to pressure the government into an agreement.
Employees of the Attorney General’s Office in Michoacán are investigating the letter’s authenticity, and trying to determine clues about its origin, but have repeatedly stated a zero disposition policy to negotiating with criminals.