Thursday, June 2, 2011

What New Names Mean

Steve Dudley writes that the emergence of Los Caballeros Templarios reflects a divide between La Tuta and José de Jesús Méndez:

With Mexican security forces' arrest of 36 alleged members of the Familia Michoacana drug trafficking organization, and the deaths of another 15, the rift between two leaders of the group has spilled into public view.

The confrontation with authorities took place along the Jalisco-Michaocan state border. A large group of forces belonging to Jose de Jesus Mendez, alias "El Chango," had gathered there for an assault on the Knights Templar, the newly minted gang of Servando Gomez, alias "La Tuta," the authorities said.

One lesson that tends to be reinforced in Mexico is that groups' new names tend to reflect real organizational differences with the gang they split off from or work for, which eventually tend to manifest themselves in violence. The most obvious example is the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, in which the former always called themselves the Zetas while working for Cárdenas, and eventually split from the Gulf altogether. You also see the same with the former Gente Nueva bosses in Durango, who never called themselves Sinaloa Cartel gangsters but rather Gente Nueva, and who seem to have split from Chapo Guzman and Mayo Zambada. There is also the case of the Pacific South Cartel, which was thought to be run by Héctor Beltrán Leyva; but the new name indicated a degree of distance that became more evident with the narcomantas from Beltrán Leyva distancing his group from the Pacific South and the Sicilia killing. And you see it in the above example.

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