La Familia Michoacana appeared around 2006, during the height of the Cartel War, as a result of a zetas takeover strategy in Michoacan and Guerrero. They wanted to take control of the plaza from El Chapo and his regional allies, the Valencias. Their plan was to make the population believe that the zetas are protectors of the people. To convince the locals that they needed protection, the zetas decided to raise some hell. So they recruited kaibiles and Michoacan natives as narco grunts to wipe the zone of any Pelones, the sicarios working for the Beltran Leyvas. The bloodier the cleaning, the better.
Then launched a serious media campaign with menacing newspaper ads and stories, and liberally dispersed the infamous narcomensajes, or drug messages, left on executed rivals. To add to the psychological warfare, they started the decapitation trend (but one could argue that the Beltran sicarios were first to have the, umm, honor of introducing this fine practice).
Regardless of who gets the credit, I remember the first time I heard about this on the news. It was shocking stuff. A narcos commando entered a bar and threw some severed heads on the floor. Right then I realized that such flair can’t be good. High-impact crime like this attracts too much attention from the outside.
The real problems started with the backstabbing and double-dealing. The local muscle didn’t want to be pushed around and started doing things their own way. And guess what? These dudes turned out to be way worse the zetas. That’s when the turf war started for real.
La FM allied itself with El Chapo Guzman organization. This worked out well because the chapos were already in the market for some muscle, or cannon fodder, depending how you look at it.
This was around June 2008. After that the zetas and the FM, now backed by the El Chapos started battling for territory. This was in Edomex mainly, about 150 km from Mexico City. For a while, it looked like La FM’s forces were gonna be exterminated for good, and that’s one of the reasons they chose to cozy up with the Guzmans.
At the end of last year, their dispute made international headlines when somebody sold out a big-time Zeta/Gulf Cartel operative. He was captured at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, but because he was the owner of a soccer team in the 3rd Division that was playing a game there, the Army decided to arrest the ENTIRE team along with him! That kind of action beats gringo football half-time shows any day, if you ask me. They were all taken to SIEDO installations and were later released after questioning. The team was called Mapaches (racoons) de Nueva Italia, based in Michoacan. The Mexican federation of Football banned and disbanded the team after this little episode.
Well, back in Monterrey, the Chapo/FM alliance started making their first big incursions a few weeks after that. In November 2008, during Revolution Day celebrations, they started firing shots in the air from all over the city to cause panic and spread fear. They wanted people to think that all hell was breaking loose.
But it wasn’t such a big deal. The authorities dismissed it (or maybe covered it up) as an attempted resistance to a mixed Army/Federal anti-narcos operation they were carrying out at the time in one of the neighborhoods. Who knows what actually happened. It’s all shadows and rumors out here.
But the El Chapos and La FM are still going at it, trying to chip away at the Gulf Cartel and their zetas enforcers. Like I said, there hasn’t been any serious clashes, yet. But word on the street has it they have been scouting political parties they can fund and turn into their little lapdogs. It’s their way of infiltrating the local scene, by funneling money and people into Goverment positions to win influence and support.
So it makes sense that they are picking election season to come blasting into town now. The elections are going to be interesting, that’s for sure. I told you as much in my last dispatch. I just didn’t anticipate the action was gonna be happening right where I live.
For now, only time will tell if the El Chapo/La FM alliance is gonna be able wedge itself into Monterrey. Regardless, Los Zetas and the Mexican Army are now both using Monterrey as their operating base and squaring off against each other. With La FM getting into the mix, it’s gonna be a three-way battle that you won’t wanna miss. And things are just starting to get close to the boiling point.
Pancho Montana is an eXiled Special Mexican War on Drugs Correspondent.
As a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, located in northern Mexico, Mr. Montana lives in Gulf Cartel territory. That means the streets belong to the Zetas, a paramilitary organization trained by the Yankees and hired by the Gulf Cartel to keep things civilized and business booming. Read his last dispatch: Calling Bullshit on Gringo Travel Advisories.
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