It’s not always clear what is motivating this tendency for gangs to paint themselves as the good guys and their enemies as the villains. Sometimes, it’s clearly in a group’s interest to distance themselves from a particularly heinous crime
or assuage fears that they might seek to overthrow the government
, to try deflect the attention of the authorities. But most citizens, to say nothing of the government, will put little stock in any group’s proclamations that they are the noblest of the gangsters.
The video is also interesting for what it says about the Caballeros. The fact that the CJNG targeted them rather than the Familia indicates that the Caballeros have consolidated themselves as Michoacan’s foremost gang, definitively displacing the older organization. It seems unlikely, however, that they have such a firm hold over Guerrero. Acapulco in particular has been contested by a bevy of different groups in recent years, from the
Zetas to the Sinaloa Cartel, the South Pacific Cartel, and the Barredora. The Caballeros, and now the CJNG, are just one group among many trying to win control.
Finally, the speaker alleges that
Nazario Moreno, who was reported killed in December 2010 in a shootout with government forces, is still alive and remains at the head of the Caballeros. The same claim was made by a captured Mexico City gang boss last year, and previously in posters signed by the Familia. Given that his death was a major success for the government and precipitated the collapse of the Familia, this allegation would be a bombshell if it proved true.</p> <p>Such conspiracy theories are common in Mexico. One popular tall tale is that Amado Carrillo, the Juarez Cartel founder who died in plastic surgery in 1997, faked his own death and remains at large. Anabel Hernandez, in her muckraking 2011 book “Los Señores del Narco,” claimed that the deceased Sinaloa boss Ignacio Coronelwas also still alive. There’s not much evidence to support any of these allegations, and there’s little reason to believe any of them are accurate.
However, it is also true that while the Hernandez had a clear interest in winning publicity with scandalous stories — a tactic that has landed her in
legal trouble with former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo
, who was attacked in the book — it’s not obvious what the CJNG would have to gain by falsely claiming that Moreno was still alive.