‘Knights Templar’ Threaten Mayor with Funeral Wreath

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Mexican criminal group the Knights Templar reportedly left a flower wreath with a note reading “RIP” dedicated to a city mayor, in an act typical of the symbolic threats and killings employed by the gang.

The wreath was left on a street in the city of Irapuato, the second-largest in the central state of Guanajuato. It was dedicated to Mayor Jorge Estrada Palero of the National Action Party (PAN), who leaves office in October. “Watch out Estrada Palero, RIP,” the note read, and was reportedly signed by the Knights Templar, according to Terra Mexico. Other local media reports did not specify whether the Knights Templar claimed responsibility for the act. 

The governor of Guanajuato said that they were investigating the threat to see whether it was linked to organized crime. The flower wreath was discovered a few days after 23 presumed members of the Knights Templar were captured in Guanajuato, although there is no evidence yet that the threat was in response to the arrests. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The Knights Templar have built their reputation around the use of symbolism, designed to attract attention and promote a threatening image of themselves. In a video released in August, leader Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” appeared in a carefully staged setting surrounded by religious iconography and a Che Guevara poster. More recently, when an alleged rapist was found crucified in the Knights Templar’s stronghold of Michoacan state, the murder echoed the style of La Tuta’s gang, although the group did not claim responsibility for the act.  

Leaving a funeral wreath as a murder threat is a code used by criminals far outside Mexico. In Colombia, the practice is known as “sufragio.” Colombian ex-congresswoman Yidis Medina, accused of various political scandals, received one in 2009 when she was under investigation for corruption. Other traditional ways of delivering murder threats is through pamphlets, or by mailing a bullet to a house.

Criminal groups often use coded behavior such as mutilations in order to communicate a specific message. The crucified victim in Michoacan, for example, was found castrated, an act meant to denote a rapist. Murder victims found with their tongues cut off are judged to be those who gave up intelligence on criminal activities. 

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