This Cartel Does Public Relations: Mexico’s Caballeros Templarios

Servando Gomez Martinez was one of the founders and capos of Mexico’s La Familia mafia gang. La Familia expressed a strange blend of messianic ideology for its acolyte gunmen, and extreme violence for its rivals in the drug trade. It briefly contested with the government for control of the state of Michoacan before being destroyed and disbanding last year. Gomez Martinez and several other Familia capos went on to found Los Cabelleros Templarios, a group with a similar rhetoric of salvation and messianism.
The following is a condensed transcript of a much longer and frequently rambling interview Gomez Martinez gave in 2009, when he surprised the host of the popular radio show Voz y Solucion by spontaneously calling in to defend La Familia from the calumnies of then-president Felipe Calderon’s government. This week, Gomez Martinez’s Knights Templar simultaneously ambushed and attacked numerous federal police installations throughout his home state of Michoacan, once again accusing them of colluding with rival mafias against the Templars.

Voz y Solucion: Good Morning Sir.

Servando Gomez Martinez : Good Morning sir, my name is Servando Gomez Martinez, ‘La Tuta.’ You’ve been talking about me a lot on your program, all over the news.

Voz y Solucion: Thank you for calling. I am at your service.

Servando Gomez Martinez : Listen sir. We want President Felipe Calderon to know that we are not his enemies. We have respect for him. We have our eyes open: we know that our work is looked down upon by society. Our one and only dispute is with the Federal Police and the Attorney General’s Office on Organized Crime [SIEDO]. Why? Because they are attacking our families. I belong to a group, which I know for a fact does not want to do ill. But the federals come in and they frame people, grab innocent people all over the state of Michoacan.

We have one hundred percent respect for the Mexican Army and the Mexican Navy. When [state agencies]dedicate themselves exclusively to going after us, the active members, we will respect them. We know that they are doing their job, that this is the job of the soldiers, of the marines, of all of them. And we will behave toward them with honor and respect as long as they are attacking us directly.

But what has been going on? They have been seizing our children, seizing our women, seizing our parents, seizing our friends, seizing all of these innocent people on false pretenses.

We want you to understand this: that we want to behave respectably, that the authorities come after us because that is their job, but at the same time that they leave our families alone. They should confine themselves to catching me, to catching my boys.

We want to show our love for the people of this country. We are making connections in Guanajuato, we are making connections in the state of Mexico, we are making connections in the state of Guerrero, all of this because we don’t want the Zetas in Michoacan, we don’t want them bothering our families, or the people of Michoacan.

[Then he accuses the Secretary of Public Security of working in the interest of rival cartels.]

We know he is colluding with the Zetas and the Beltran Leyva cartel. Our dispute is with them. Why? Because we are not going to let them come into Michoacan. That’s why we threw them out of the city of Lazaro Cardenas [port city where Gomez Martinez was once a primary school teacher], because we were tired of all of the abuse.

My friend, I don’t have more to tell you. We are open to dialogue. We know the military is just doing its job and we respect that.

Thank you for listening to us.

Voz y Solucion: Mr. Servando, why was the Familia created?

Servando Gomez Martinez : Look, sir, I am going to tell you something. Not only in Arteaga, not only in Michoacan, not only on the ranches, not only in the whole Mexican Republic-there are mafias all over the world. There are criminals everywhere. If we don’t try to set it up so that in our town we are going to act as ethically as possible, the Zetas are going to come in.

We created La Familia to take care of the interests of our towns and families, so that everyone would respect them. We as we understand it do not disrespect people. Yes there are abductions, but we are not kidnappers, and we do not take payment for killings.

Who do we abduct? We abduct people who refuse to pay up, or people who have family members in the federal government and state governments.

Honest working people are being made to make payoffs [to officials]and that is why we intervened, since unfortunately wherever there is power, there is corruption, so they pay off the people from the ministries, the judges: therein lies the problem.

We created La Familia to be unified, to preserve the interests of our state, of our families, our friends, of all the people: businessmen and non-businessmen alike. We want our people to be respected. And if we have done things wrong, we ask for your pardon, we will try to correct our error. People know how to find us: just tell us and we will correct our error.

Voz y Solucion: Mr. Servando, people are scared, the average people in Michoacan are scared.

Servando Gomez Martinez : Tell them not to worry. We have nothing against any citizen, just against people who are supporting the Zetas, people who are selling out, like this one boy, a boy who was with us and then went and allied himself with the Zetas, who are just bandits; he went over the Zetas and took a lot of people with him, most of them just drug addicts.

But the citizenry can be assured that we aren’t going to attack them. Anyone who wants to should come to Michocacan, and it is our duty to protect them; just ask the engineers, the architects, the companies how they are treated here with complete respect…the televisions just don’t show people how we really are.

Voz y Solucion: Where is La Familia headed with Michoacan?

Servando Gomez Martinez : What we want is peace and tranquility, we know we are a necessary evil, but if we weren’t here, if I were to die, and you have to understand this, someone else will take my place. This is never going to end.

We want to get to a consensus. We want to achieve a national pact. I don’t know how we are going to get there, but it has to be done.

Voz y Solucion