The notorious Knight Templar drugs cartel in western Mexico no longer counts drug trafficking as its top source of income. Instead, iron ore is now their main source of revenue.
A special envoy to the Mexican government told the Associated Press that the cartel's main sources of income are now mining, logging and extortion. It is the first major acknowledgement by the Mexican government that a powerful organized crime group has gone further than trading drugs.
The Knights Templar had started out as major generator and transporter of methamphetamine and have for the last few years controlled the Mexican state of Michoacan.
The implications of the group expanding their operations beyond drugs are serious, as it is a sign of organized crime in Mexico becoming entrenched within the country's economy. The Mexican state has admitted to the existence of at least 12 major cartels along with many smaller ones.
“I’ve never looked at them as drug-trafficking organizations,” said Samuel Logan, director of the security consulting firm Southern Pulse. “They’re multi-national corporations that do what they have to do to stay in business.”