Today I read an article (the link to which is provided below) which described how the Mexican cartel known as Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar) has been facing a lot of opposition from local vigilante organizations. The article described a video posted by Servando Gómez, the leader of the gang, and how he stated that he acknowledges the crimes he has committed, but he will fight to the death and never turn himself in. The article goes on to illustrate how the emergence and success of local vigilante groups pressured the police and federal forces to “step up efforts” against the gang. The combined effects of these pressures on the gang has resulted in a significant decrease in the gangs power and activity, causing the gang and its leaders to face possible defeat and imprisonment. Authorities have stated that Servando Gómez is acting like “a cornered criminal who recognizes that the state has been effective.”
This article is extremely interesting as it highlights an apparently effective strategy used to combat a powerful and violent cartel. This ties into our class discussions today about recommendations for solutions to organized crime. While hard policies are often criticized, it is compelling that such policies are working in Mexico. Although, this is most likely due to the fact that the policies are enforced by the people throughout society, rather than by international influence on corrupt or incompetent officials/institutions. It appears that the reason these hard policies are working is because, rather than the state going after drug leaders, the people have risen up to fight the cartels. This in turn increased federal forces drive to push back the cartel and pursue its leaders. The combined result is a potential end of the cartel.
However, another interesting aspect of this article is that Gómez stated that, in the effort to eliminate the Knights Templar gang, the people and the state have armed too many individuals, many of whom are criminals. This raises a few questions. Will the vigilantes form new criminal organizations to fill the power vacuum left by the Knights Templar if it is eliminated? If so, would this mirror the effects of the end of civil wars in many Latin American countries; would the new organizations form into competing paramilitary groups and/or gangs? Would this result in a further increase in violence in the area? Or perhaps, the vigilantes will shift focus from fighting the Knights Templar, to fighting any other criminal organization in the area. Although this is more of an optimistic possibility, this would be the best future state for the vigilante groups.