Crime and Violence

Operations against Knights Templar extend beyond Michoacán to include preventive measures in neighboring states

Federal forces deployed to the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán. Source: Cuartoscuro.
Federal forces deployed to the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán. Source: Cuartoscuro.

02/25/14 (written by cmolzahn) — A month into the operation launched by the federal government to restore order to Michoacán by targeting the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) organized crime group and the self-defense groups (grupos de autodefensa) that emerged a year ago in the Tierra Caliente region to combat them, the federal government has identified 131 arrests of presumed organized crime members, although Alfredo Castillo, the commissioner appointed by the federal government to oversee security operations in Michoacán, reported 334 arrests. The Interior Ministry explained that the discrepancy is due to the fact that nearly 200 of the suspected detainees are still undergoing processing and their names have not yet been released. In either case, only one—Dionicio loya Plancarte, “El Tío,” arrested on January 27—is considered to be one of the Templarios’ top operatives. The autodefensas have said that they will continue their operations until all four of the group’s principle leaders are captured, which includes Servando Gómez Martínez, “La Tuta”; Enrique Plancarte Solís, “El Kike”; and Nazario Moreno, “El Chayo.” The federal government had declared Moreno killed in a military operation in 2010, but the popular belief is that he is still alive.

Concern over the Templarios extends beyond Michoacán, although neighboring states deny that the group maintains any significant presence there. Federal authorities have arrested 19 individuals suspected of involvement in attacks on convenience stores in the state of Hidalgo last month. Monte Alejandro Rubido, executive secretary of the National Public Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP), said that nine of the arrests occurred in the State of Michoacán and ten in the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex), all without violent confrontation. Initial reports were that the men detained were likely members of the Knights Templar, which contradicts statements from Hidalgo’s governor following the attacks that they were more likely local criminal bands only operating in Hidalgo and neighboring Edomex. According to federal authorities, the group arrested in Edomex was holding a kidnapping victim whom authorities released. Moreover, intelligence sources stated that the suspects were also planning similar attacks in Michoacán.

Oxxo convenience stores, like the one seen here in Tecámac, Edomex, were attacked in January. Source: Reuters.
Five Oxxo convenience stores, like the one seen here in Tecámac, Edomex, were attacked in January by armed men. Source: Reuters.

On January 19, armed men robbed five Oxxo convenience stores in Hidalgo and Edomex and one gasoline station in Hidalgo with firearms and homemade bombs. There were conflicting reports from Hidalgo state authorities following the attacks beginning with the state’s public security secretary’s initial statement that the attackers were presumably Templarios from the neighboring state of Michoacán, as a result of a likely “cockroach effect” from current security operations there. In the days following, Hidalgo Governor Francisco Olvera Ruiz discounted this possibility, instead saying that the attacks were most likely perpetrated by local criminal groups operating along the border of Hidalgo and Edomex. This month, though, Olvera Ruiz announced a new public security plan for the state that would minimize the impact of a possible “cockroach effect” resulting from security operations in Michoacán. Nevertheless, the governor maintains that recent criminal acts in the state, including the attacks on the Oxxo stores and the gas station, as well as recent kidnappings in the Tulancingo municipality were isolated incidents, and cannot be attributed to Knights Templar from Michoacán.

Other states bordering Michoacán have also taken measures to protect themselves against the “cockroach effect,” particularly Edomex. México Governor Eruviel Ávila Villegas originally requested increased security primarily along the border with Michoacán, but Edomex security spokesman Indalecio Ríos Velázquez announced late last month that 30 security checkpoints will be set up along the borders with Michoacán, Guerrero, Morelos, Querétaro, and Hidalgo, which will be manned by federal security forces and military personnel. Ríos Velázquez added that the measures are also meant to shield the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF) from criminal activity in nearby states, particularly Michoacán. He emphasized that the measures are entirely preventive, as there has been no detected increase in crime rates along the borders with these states.


Fernández, Emilio. “Edomex se blinda ante violencia.” El Universal. January 28, 2014.

“Fuerzas federales detienen a 19 ‘templarios’ que atacaron tiendas Oxxo.” CNN México. February 6, 2014.

Cruz, Armando. “Lista, estrategia de seguridad en Hidalgo ante posible efecto ‘cucaracha’: gobernador.” La Jornada February 6, 2014.

Martínez Brooks, Darío. “Un mes con 131 arrestos en Michoacán, pero solo uno es de los más buscados.” CNN México. February 13, 2014.

4 thoughts on “Operations against Knights Templar extend beyond Michoacán to include preventive measures in neighboring states”

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