A suspected member of the Knights Templar, or Caballeros Templarios, drug cartel located in Mexico has been arrested on charges that he has been kidnapping and killing children in order to harvest their organs in order to sell them for the benefit of the cartel. A police official in the western Mexican state, Michoacan, announced the arrest today.
The Public Safety Secretary of Michoacan, Carlos Castellanos Becerra, is accusing Manuel Plancarte Gaspar in the organ-trafficking scheme of the cartel. Plancarte Gaspar’s uncle, Enrique Plancarte Solis, holds a high rank within the Knights Templar cartel, having taken control after the death of the previous leader, Nazario Moreno, on March 9. Castellanos Becerra stated that those involved in the ring allegedly kidnapped children, took them to houses previously rented and supplied with medical equipment, killed the children, and removed their organs. According to Castellanos Becerra, evidence gathered in their investigations, which are still open, suggests that several individuals in the ring sought out certain traits in people, preferring children, and kidnapped those who had them. He was unable to release further details due to the open status of the case.
Although Mexican police do not typically use Twitter to announce big developments, they took to the social network earlier today, tweeting a message regarding their investigation into organ trafficking. A vigilante group leader, Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, heard of the tweet and told local radio station, MVS Radio, that it was well-known by the area’s residents that the Knights Templar was harvesting organs. As proof, the leader of the group of civilians formed to protect themselves against Mexico’s drug cartels offered the cases of several children, all from the same school in Mexico City, who had been rescued from refrigerated containers within vans while they were being transported through his town of Tepalcatepec. According to Mireles, the transport van had been headed to Lazaro Cardenas, a port city, but took a wrong turn and found themselves in Tepalcatepec.
Mireles believes that the children had probably been kidnapped during a parent-approved excursion to the beach. The children were eventually returned to their parents. There was no indication on when this event had taken place, and Mireles did not answer calls to his cell phone.
Police in Mexico stopped Plancarte Gaspar, 34, last week in a stolen car, along with one other suspect. Although the trafficking of crystal meth is no longer the main income source for the Knights Templar, who depend on illegal logging and mining as well as extortion to fund their group, police found crystal meth and cash on both men.
The World Heath Organization has estimated that of the 100,000 transplants that are performed worldwide every year, 10 percent involve the illegal trafficking of human organs. The country of Costa Rica busted a large organ trafficking ring which involved members in Israel and Eastern Europe who used the country of Costa Rica and its citizens as a source for organs. The conspiracy uncovered last year, however, consisted of people willingly selling their organs to the ring for large amounts of cash. The allegations of kidnapping and killing Mexican children in order to harvest and sell their organs is clearly much more serious.
By Jennifer Pfalz