The drug cartel La Familia Michoacana is, as one Mexican intelligence analyst put it, “unique.”
From all available information so far, it appears that La Familia has developed into a faith-based right-wing populist social movement emanating from and orchestrated by an organization that happens to be a well-armed, well-financed violent criminal enterprise.
La Familia has branched out from the production and transport of drugs, diversifying into counterfeiting, extortion, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution and car dealerships. They’ve gone so far beyond bribery that people in Michoacan are paying mony to La Familia in lieu of taxes to the government. According to the recent Mexican federal police report on La Familia, there are 9,000 members of the La Familia “sect.”
The federales are now viewing La Familia as more of a guerrilla group than a straight-foward drug cartel. Unlike other cartels, La Familia goes beyond the production and distribution of marijuana, meth, cocaine and heroin and into the political realm. The report goes on to say that La Familia has “created a cult-like mystique and developed pseudo-evangelical recruitment techniques that are unique in Mexico.”
Federal intelligence officers in Mexico described La Familia leader, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno–El Mas Loco (The Crazy One)–as a “religious zealot” who totes around his self-published book of “aphorisms” based on the Bible and writings of US evangelical author and former Focus on The Family writer, John Eldredge. In the searches and arrests targeting La Familia across Michoacan, the one common denominator federal forces found, along with assault rifles, grenades and drugs, were copies of Eldredge’s Wild At Heart. (Salvaje de Corazon).
La Familia is strongly pro-family (and all that that implies) and requires its members to abstain from alcohol and drugs. There is an indoctrination program all La Familia recruits must go through that inculcates ” personal values, ethical and morlal principles consistent with the purposes of the organization.” Last year La Familia brought in two motivational speakers to lecture its members. The group is hierarchic and maintains a strict top-down emotional control of its members.
Think of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, only with more money and firepower and you get the idea.
La Familia presents serious implications for the July 5 state and elections and not just in Michoacan. The federal intelligence report warns that La Familia “represents a serious risk to penetrate political, social and religious structures in Michoacán and increasingly in other states of the country as Guanajuato, Mexico and the State of Jalisco.”
More to follow from La Familia writings, messages and banderas.