It has been said for a long time that Mexico should be avoided by tourists. The widespread violence initiated by the drug cartels (and corrupt government) is the reason. It is reported that the mountainous, agricultural western Mexican Michoacan region has run rampant with drug-related violence. The fighting has been between one drug cartel against another or against vigilantes, taking the law into their own hands. The gangs in this region are known as La Familia Michoacana with an offshoot called The Knights Templar cartel.
The founder of these factions is one Nazario “The Craziest One” Moreno. He was officially killed in March 2014 (though he had been reported dead in 2010), but his impression is lasting. Michoacan’s federal security commissioner Alfredo Castillo shed some light on some initiation rituals of the cartel. One of these rituals was for new members to eat human heart. This practice wasn’t so much cannibalism as it was a means for Moreno to test his men’s loyalty and weed out potential moles. Castillo explained, “The ritual ranged from dismembering people they intended to kill to sometimes serving up the heart.”
As far as the violence goes, Mexican citizens are in fear that the government is losing control. In fact, since 2007, it is reported that more than 100,000 people have been killed in Mexican gang-related activity. In mid-December, 11 were killed in a cartel vs. cartel shootout between rival factions. The killing of 43 Mexican teachers-in-training by a drug gang in cooperation with the police made international headlines. The violence has sparked massive protests against the government and its practices.