On the Southwest coast of Mexico lies the Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán de Ocampo. One third of its economy is derived from agriculture. Along with its enormous lemon and mango plantations, well over of a million acres is devoted to avocado production. The U.S. consumes about 90% of the avocado harvest, which are produced year round and it boasts that avocados are delivered to the U.S. less than 48 hours after they are harvested. Michoacán can now boast of their fuerzas autodefensas (self-defense forces).
Farmers and the people of the state of Michoacán were being brutalized by a vicious drug cartel. Gangsters and thugs ruled Michoacán by theft, robbery, kidnapping, murder, and extortion. Their illegal activities also encompassed mining and logging. The group’s violence included savagely beheading their enemies. Too may people were losing their lives and freedom, or any sort of liberty, was being denied.
Note: Most troubling, is a recent development associated with their kidnappings, human organ harvesting, which reportedly targets children.
Farms were being stolen, either by cartel lawyers or at the point of a gun while store owners were being charged monthly fees, taxes were being imposed on all vehicles, and tariffs were put on crates of harvested fruit. The criminals were even preparing to tax housing based on square footage.
The Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) Cartel that ruled the region was reborn upon the ashes of La Familia after it dissolved in 2011 when its boss, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, known as the “Craziest One,” was reportedly killed in a gun battle the year before. Prior to La Familia, the Gulf Cartel dominated the area after having achieved its dominance along the U.S. Mexican border starting in the 1970s.
The Knights Templar criminal organization’s tactics included acquiring the cooperation of corrupt local public officials and police through bribes, and when that didn’t work, with threats.
The state’s government officials were unable to bring the cartel under control. There were rumors that state government official were in collusion with the organized crime cartel.
Bringing this all to a head for the people of Michoacán was the rape and pillaging of girls and wives. Their government had lost control. Organized crime was in control. The people weren’t’ happy. They had finally had enough. Tired of the cartel’s reign of terror, the people banded together to form vigilante groups and took up arms in February 2013.