Mexican Cartel That Forced New Recruits To Eat Human Organs
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You will not be surprised to know that gangs generally have pretty grim initiations.
I mean, if you're planning on joining a murderous organisation, you're probably going to get your hands dirty at some point.
But while some order their new recruits to kill a rival gang member or take a beating from the current cohort, one Mexican cartel became notorious for its particularly bloody initiation.
The Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) formed back in 2010 as a splinter group of the once-feared Familia Michoacana.
Styling themselves on the religious order of the same name, wearing distinctive helmets during official engagements, they professed to be protectors of their community from rival cartels.
They even had a 22-page code of ethics, which commanded members to 'protect the oppressed' and 'promote patriotism', and prohibited the abuse of women and children.
However, in order to get into the gang, would-be knights were forced to eat human organs, as a sign of loyalty to their leader, Nazario 'El Chayo' Moreno.
According to gang members, recruits would eat the hearts taken from local children who had been kidnapped for organ trafficking.
Discussing the vile practice, Alfredo Castillo, the federal government's envoy to Michoaca, told Noticias MVS: "At [an] initiation ceremony they used the organs, in this case the heart, and forced people going through this initiatory process to eat it.
"There are statements from some people who were present when Nazario Moreno came and told others, either as initiation or as part of a ritual: 'Today we are going to eat a person's heart'."
Moreno, who was the former leader of the Familia Michoacana, was thought to have died in 2010 after the then-president Felipe Calderon officially declared his death.
However, it later transpired that he was in fact killed by Mexican marines in 2014.
At the time, the organisation was facing strong opposition from local vigilante groups, called 'autodefensas', which turned against the Knights Templar and tried to put an end to their control in the region.
In February 2015, the Knights' leader, Servando Martínez, who went by the name 'La Tuta' because he used to be a teacher, was also captured by police while hiding out on a farm.
He was known for having a strong presence on Social media, regularly posting videos to boost his image.
In 2019, he was sentenced to a further 55 years for helping Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán escape prison by claiming to have had a heart attack.
Ignacio Rentería Andrade, nicknamed 'El Ceniz', took over the reins of the cartel until he too was arrested by police in 2017.
Since then, it's not clear how much remains of the Knights Templar as any kind of force in Michoacan.
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Topics: News, US News, Crime, True crime