Knights Templar Raise Stakes, Target Big Business

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Mexico’s authorities blamed the Caballeros Templarios gang for several attacks against Sabritas, a PepsiCo subsidiary, in what may be one of the first major targetings of a large transnational firm in the country’s ever-evolving drug war.

Guanajuato Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre said the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), an offshoot of the Familia Michoacana, firebombed numerous company trucks and buildings Friday and Saturday in Guanajuato and Michaocan states, El Universal reported

Sabritas is a PepsiCo Mexico food distribution subsidiary that has operations throughout the country. In a statement, the company said it “lamented” the attacks and had contacted the authorities.

Zamarripa said four alleged members of the group arrested following the attacks and declared extortion to be the motive. However, Sabritas denied it had been extorted, according to a separate report by El Universal.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Knights Templar have tried to compensate for their relatively low prominence in the drug trade by aggressively expanding their extortion operations. This appears to have been their next step. And if they were responsible for these attacks, they have certainly raised the stakes.

Former Mexico intelligence official and security analyst Alejandro Hope said this was the first attack he could remember against a transnational company, the Associated Press reported. However, it does not seem as though the group purposely targeted Pepsi because it is a US business.

In general, organized criminal groups and smaller gangs prefer to target small and medium companies for extortion and attacks for a variety of reasons. They are more localized, making their leadership more identifiable and accessible to criminals. They are also more likely to have cash at hand than larger businesses.

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