On Saturday December 28, police found five bodies in Michoacán state; three near Los Erandenis bridge in Tarimbaro, two more in the state capital Morelia. All the bodies were decapitated; their heads were found nearby. It was the last case of violence in 2013 attributed to one of the fresh cartels, calling itself Los Caballeros Templarios (LCT), literally “Knights Templar,” after the religious order, dedicated to fight in the name of Christianity.
These “Templars” seem to symbolize the new phase of so-called “war on drugs,” going on in Mexico since president Calderón’s declaration in 2006. Knights Templar are not only responsible for most of the methamphetamine production flowing to United States and third most powerful drug trafficking organization (DTO) in Mexico but also a religious sect, using so called “divine justice” to justify the elimination of their enemies.
LCT are the latest proof that “war on drugs” in Mexico is not purely secular in nature; this secular nature has been long time disputed anyway, thanks to religious aspects, such as the widespread popularity of narcocultura.
In this paper, I intend to advocate that Mexican “war on drugs” has in fact also evolved into religious conflict, perceived as a holy war at least by LCT. The preposition for such holy war, according to Eller, is existence of the concept of “just war” from the side of the holy warriors: Cosmic dualism envisions the forces of good and evil locked in a cosmic struggle for domination. Humans are and should be engaged in this contest—“warriors for God” and “Christian soldiers”—in which there is no neutrality. LCT’s “Divine Justice” is a good example of such concept. Furthermore, Knights Templar are presenting themselves as armed warriors of God, even taking over the symbolic of their medieval namesakes, thus becoming similar to various “warrior organizations” found in many religions involved in religious conflict all across the globe, namely Sikh extremists in India or terrorist organizations such as Taliban or Lord’s Resistance Army.
Following chapters will be dedicated to examine issues concerning the involvement of religion in “war on drugs:” 1) The necessary predispositions, i.e. brief history of disintegration of state and dominant church and the rapid evolvement of drug cartel organization since crackdown of president Calderón in 2006. 2) The religious aspects of drug traffic and significance of narcocultura and narcocultos. 3) The evolvement of Knights Templar cartel and their policy of holy war.
2. Predispositions: Failed church, failed state
2.1. Cartel evolution
If we mean to discuss role of religion in the policy of Mexican DTO’s and evolvement of religious cartels (LCT), it is necessary to point out it is part of wide transformation of cartels in Mexico.
Bunker and Sullivan speak about 3 generations of cartel evolution; while first two phases are Colombian in their origins, third generation is known to exist only in Mexico....