The infamous Mexican drug cartel the Knights Templar has apparently diversified outside of illegal substances and into illegal mining, logging and extortion according to recent wire reports and leading border crime experts.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Alfredo Castillo–a special envoy of the Mexican government sent into the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacán–said iron ore “is the principle source of income” for the cartel.
“They’re charging $15 (a metric ton) for the process,” Castillo explained, “from extraction to transport, processing, storage, permits and finally export.”
Samuel Logan, director of Southern Pulse, a security consulting firm, was not surprised by this revelation, according to the AP.
“I’ve never looked at them as drug-trafficking organizations,” Logan said of Mexico’s cartels. “They’re multinational corporations that will react to market pressures and do what they have to do to stay in business.”
Breitbart Texas’ border security expert, Sylvia Longmire, could not agree more with Logan’s assessment.
“Sam Logan is spot on when he talks about cartel diversification” Longmire said. “Los Zetas started doing this years ago, and they’re heavily involved in mining activity in northern Mexico.”
“Cartels don’t have this personal connection to drug trafficking, aside from the fact that some members are users or addicts,” she added.
According to the AP, Alonso Ancira, president of the National Chamber of the Iron and Steel, recently told local journalists that he estimated drug cartels earned $1 billion in profits from selling iron ore in 2013. It was unclear if Ancira was referring only to the illegal mining done by the Knights Templar.
Longmire explained the differences between some of the various cartels. “For organizations that have been around for decades,” she stated, “like the Sinaloa Federation or the Gulf cartel, drug trafficking is a long-held tradition and it’s the business they know.”
“Those groups.” Longmire continued, “also generally prefer to stay away from inflicting harm on innocent people, which is inevitable once you break into kidnapping and extortion.”
Longmire contrasted this by explaining, “The Knights Templar, which was once unified with La Familia Michoacana, don’t have that history or tradition, so their main goal is just to maximize their profits. If it means deemphasizing their involvement in the drug trade, they have no problem doing that. The mining sector is very lucrative, and it’s considerably less messy than meth trafficking.”
Frances Martel with Breitbart News reported in January that the Knights Templar cartel had become so despised that vigilante groups formed and were working with federal authorities to reclaim their region of operation. “Some reports say the community police groups have disarmed local law enforcement in order to carry about the removal of the cartel gangs, as they have found police protection insufficient. Meanwhile, Michoacán Governor Fausto Vallejo announced he is calling on the federal government for more aid, as his state simply does not have a large enough police force to stop either the drug cartels or the vigilante groups that have arisen out of the need for more police. As the groups amass power and claim towns in their name, few can predict what these community police groups might use it for.”
The AP report concluded, “The government also has arrested or killed much of the cartel’s leadership, but they did the same to La Familia, only to see the cartel remake itself into something even more menacing.”
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