Nazario Moreno González, Enrique Plancarte Solís, Servando Gómez Martínez (La Tuta)
Michoacán, Colima Guerrero, state of Mexico, Morelos
Knights Templar—Guard of Michoacán (Spanish: Los Caballeros Templarios Guardia Michoacana) commonly known as the Knights Templar Cartel (Spanish: Los Caballeros Templarios) is a Mexican criminal organization composed of remnants of the defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel based in the Mexican State of Michoacán.
After the first alleged death of Nazario Moreno, leader of the La Familia Michoacana cartel, on 9 December 2010, a split between the cartel leaders emerged. Some of the cartel co-founders, Enrique Plancarte Solís, Servando Gómez Martínez, and Dionisio Loya Plancarte, formed an offshoot of La Familia calling itself Caballeros Templarios (or Knights Templar). A large part of "La Familia" left with them to form their Templars Organization, while José de Jesús Méndez Vargas kept the leadership of the now disbanded "Familia Michoacana", starting a fight for the control of Michoacán.
The Knights Templar Cartel indoctrinates its operatives to "fight and die" for the cartel. They have taken full control of the now-defunct La Familia Michoacana operations in states including Michoacán, Guerrero, the state of Mexico, and Morelos.
Along with the Sinaloa Cartel and Gulf Cartel, the Knights Templar formed a short-lived joint enforcer gang called Cárteles Unidos (English: United Cartels) or La Resistencia, composed of well-trained gunmen dedicated to kill and expel Los Zetas Cartel operatives who were invading the former Familia Michoacana territories in Michoacán and Jalisco.
The Templars' most recent feud is against the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is trying to gain full control of Jalisco and Michoacán, and also against Civilian vigilante and Militia groups that are fighting back the criminals in an attempt to clear Michoacan from the Knights Templar.
On February 27, 2015, Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Leader of the Knights Templar was arrested by the Mexican federal police. A non-specific number of his associates were also arrested and many properties were also seized by the Mexican government.
Narco-banners previous to Joseph Ratzinger's visit
The former Pope Benedict XVI had a visit scheduled on 23 March 2012 to the Mexican state of Guanajuato.
Previous to that date, on 17 March 2012, the Knights Templar Cartel allegedly put up 14 banners on bridges of the León, San Miguel de Allende, Irapuato, Salamanca, Yuriria, Moroleón and Uriangato, municipalities of Guanajuato, pledging to not provoke any violent acts during the pope's visit. The banners read the following:
There were other similar banners that were allegedly signed by their rivals, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
The Knights Templar cartel was founded on a strict ethical code developed by La Tuta. The code is contained in a small book that is handed out to all members of the cartel and even to the public. The book is decorated with knights on horseback with lances and crosses. The 22 page book is titled "The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan" and contains the rules and regulations of the gang. The gang has based its rules on those of the European Knights Templar. Members swear to help the poor and helpless, fight against materialism, respect women and children, not kill for money, and not use drugs. The Knights even go as far as drug testing all members. While the cartel has moved more towards accepting criminal acts prohibited by the ethical code, breaking the code can still incur punishment by death.