Mexican Drug Cartels Force Aspiring Members to Eat Human Hearts

By McCarton Ackerman 01/08/15

Gang-related violence in Mexico rages on as drug cartels turn to cannibalism to weed out infiltration.


A recent interview with a Mexican security official revealed that several drug cartels allegedly forced gang members to eat the hearts of murder victims as part of an initiation rite.

Alfredo Castillo, the federal security commissioner in Michoacan, Western Mexico, said that drug cartels, including the Knights Templar and La Familia Michoacana, adopted the practice. Although it wasn’t widespread, they used as it as a means of rooting out potential infiltrators. However, Castillo didn’t say when and where the rituals took place or who provided the testimony. Michoacan has become one of the most violent areas in Mexico due to cartel activity. Armed vigilantes have taken control of 15 townships within the province and the cartel has transformed the region into a major production center for meth, marijuana, and cocaine. Eleven people were killed in a shootout last month between rival gangs, but no part of the country has been safe from this violence. More than 100,000 people have been killed throughout Mexico due to gang-related violence since 2007.

Local priests throughout Michoacan have also stepped up in an attempt to stamp out cartel warfare in their communities. In one instance, a bulletproof vest became part of a priest’s regular wardrobe. Apatzingán priest Father Gregorio López spoke out against the corruption last January to the Guardian and encouraged others to fight back.

"I am calling on the people to rise up with what dignity, shame and balls they have left," said López. "If the horse doesn't want to move, you have to use your spurs."

Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez said that he sided with the vigilantes and believes the government is just as guilty because the “[cartel] leaders are fully identified and yet no one stops them.” Local parish priest Andres Larios Chavez believes that “the government and the Templars are the same thing. The campaigns of the state officials are financed by them. Instead of disarming the criminal organization, it went into towns that finally had some peace and tried to disarm the self-defense groups.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.