05/14/14 (written by apiña) — Michoacán’s former secretary general and interim governor, José Jesús Reyna García, was formally arrested for alleged links to organized crime on Wednesday, May 7 after a federal judge in the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex) ordered his arrest. Reyna, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), was removed from his role as secretary general in early April after Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR) for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduria Especializada en Investigacion de Delincuencia Organizada, SEIDO) “found possible contacts with criminal organizations,” specifically the Knights Templar Organization (Caballeros Templarios, KTO). Reyna will remain at the Altiplano maximum-security prison in Edomex as the judicial proceedings unfold.
While under an order for arraigo—a form of preventative detention to hold suspects without charges for up to 40 to 80 days—authorities found enough proof of Reyna’s involvement with criminal organizations’ leaders to warrant an arrest. As SEIDO Director Rodrigo Archundia explained in a press conference, Reyna was arrested “as a result of testimonials and declarations, financial trails, and other various pieces of expert evidence gathered by the Criminal Investigation Agency [Agencia de Investigación Criminal].” The PGR also referenced Reyna’s alleged participation in a meeting with Servando “La Tuta” Gómez Martínez, the only remaining leader of the Knights Templar Organization. A video released in late April on Facebook showed Reyna meeting with La Tuta and former Michoacán PRI Deputy José Trinidad Martínez Pasalagua. It is interesting to note that this video was released around the same time as another video was published to YouTube that showed La Tuta meeting with Arquimedes Useguera Solorio—the former mayor of the Lázaro Cárdenas municipality who has since been arrested—and Omar Soto Gil, the former treasurer of the Lázaro Cárdenas. According to SEIDO Director Archundia, “Taking all of this evidence together, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Público de la Federación) had the obligation of presenting this information before the courts, taking judicial action against [Reyna].”
Reyna’s arrest comes at a time when coordinated efforts between the federal government and Michoacán’s self-defense groups (grupos de autodefensa) have made notable strides in taking down the Knights Templar leadership. Authorities arrested or killed three of the four KTO leaders in the first three months of 2014, leaving La Tuta as the only remaining leader. According to national security documents reported on by Excélsior, however, La Tuta has since gotten involved as one of the leaders of a new hybrid criminal organization that has emerged in Michoacán. The group known as “La Tercera Hermanidad” (The Third Brotherhood, H3) includes elements of rival criminal organizations, like the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG) and the Knights Templar, along with members of self-defense groups in the region, including group leaders from the municipalities of La Huacana and Buenavista Tomatlán. While details on the leadership and structure of H3 are not yet clear, the emergence of this group leads to new challenges for federal officials attempting to control organized crime in Mexico.
Castillo, Gustavo et. al. “Arraigo de 40 días y destitución de Reyna por posible nexo templario.” La Jornada. April 6, 2014. For the English version of this article, check out Mexico Voices’ translation here.