The Knights Templar, a quasi-religious drug syndicate prone to beheading its enemies, terrorizes an entire state in Mexico, where the government has sent thousands of troops. But enraged villagers are taking law into their own hands, saying police and soldiers are on the take.
In the roiling Mexican state of Michoacan, where much of the nation’s illicit and million-dollar meth trade is based, all-out war is raging in broad daylight.
Outlaws from the exceptionally nasty and cult-like cartel Knights Templar launch blazing gunfights in city streets against thousands of federal troops dispatched by President Enrique Pena Nieto, making the humble state one of the most dangerous in Mexico.
The Knights Templar spun off from the dreaded La Familia cartel in 2011, after infamous drug lord Nazario Moreno, aka “El Mas Loco” (The Craziest One), reportedly died in a shootout with federal police. His body has never been found and Moreno is now considered the patron saint of drug traffickers.
The cult-like crime syndicate has its own code of conduct book, which it distributes across the region where members grow massive crops of marijuana and heroin poppies and control an incredibly large and lucrative meth industry.
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Over the weekend, it has come out that the killer in Norway's shocking massacre last week also considered himself a member of the Knights Templar. He claims that a group of nine individuals met a decade ago to refound the organization. His manifesto calls for the organization to "seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda."
Did an 800-year-old organization inspire violence on two continents this week? I doubt anyone thinks these two groups are linked. It's just a coincidence that they use the same name. Yet, it raises the question of what makes violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration? And what makes two groups so far apart find that inspiration in the Knights Templar?
Along with the booklet, which also preaches loyalty to family and country, police also have confiscated banners with messages from the gang, trucks emblazoned with Templar "shields," and even white robes with red crosses like the ones worn by the original Knights Templar order.
The original knights were outlawed in Europe and executed and their order dismantled beginning in 1307.
Photos from a Mexican army raid the previous day on a Templar training camp in Zacapu, Michoacán, show pages like those in the booklet as well as a medieval-style helmet made of steel grating and the white tunics.
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