03/30/14 (written by cmolzahn, lcalderón) — Just weeks after the confirmed death of Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios, KTO) leader Nazario “El Chayo” Moreno González, officials from the Felipe Calderón administration (2006-2012) are facing criticism in the Mexican Congress for allegedly giving misinformation regarding El Chayo’s death. The Mexican government had reported in December 2010 that federal forces had killed the kingpin in a shootout in Michoacán. However, they were unable to produce the body to prove it, which some reports accredited to the belief that members of the Knights Templar had allegedly recovered the body before federal authorities could. Three years later, the Mexican government confirmed El Chayo’s death again following a shootout with the Mexican military in western Michoacán. This time, however, federal officials were able to recover the body.
Despite the kingpin’s takedown—another major blow to the KTO who lost leader Dionicio “El Tío” Ioya Plancarte in January—, members from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) in the Chamber of Deputies are pressing for criminal charges against former Interior Minister Alejandro Poiré and Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna for alleged false declarations, coercion of public servants, and abuse of office. In a press conference, Deputy Aleyda Alavés said that the complaints against Poiré and García Luna filed with the federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) stem from declarations Poiré made on December 10, 2010 when he was technical secretary of the National Security Council (Secretaría Técnica del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional) that the federal government had sufficient evidence from the Federal Police (then under the leadership of García Luna) that El Chayo had been killed during an armed confrontation in Apatzingán, Michoacán. Alavés said that given the recent developments there are sufficient grounds for the PGR to investigate the motivation behind the false statements. In his defense, Poiré responded that authorities did not have enough information at the time, and what information there was available was not detailed enough.
The Calderón administration’s misinformation surrounding El Chayo’s death is not the first time something like this has happened. Francisco “El Pantera” Galeana Núñez, a high-ranking member of the Knights Templar Organization (Caballeros Templarios) was reported among the five killed in a shootout with federal forces in April 2013. Almost a year later, however, in February 2014 Mexico’s Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob) confirmed the death of El Pantera following another shootout with Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) and the Mexican Army. Such misreporting not only casts a pall on the public’s confidence in official institutions, but also allows the alleged deceased to operate underground under the pretext that they have been killed. As argued in a La Jornada editorial translated by Mexico Voices, the government’s misreporting “forces [the Mexican public] to review the chain of lies, irregularities and overall lack of transparency in the federal government’s actions over the past and present administrations in the fight against organized crime.” Specifically relating to El Chayo’s alleged death, the article continues, “…the error or lie from the government ended up serving the purposes of organized crime for three years and three months, during which [El Chayo] benefitted from impunity and a wide maneuver margin thanks to the federal government pronouncing him dead.”