As the Holy Week approaches, members of the notorious criminal organization known as “La Familia Michoacana” are scouring through the phone numbers of penitents who are set to participate in the Stations of the Cross in Taxco, Guerrero. They are extorting these individuals by demanding an exorbitant fee from them.
Furthermore, they are also threatening to sell the rolls of thorny branches used by the penitents, known as “zarzas,” for 2,000 pesos each. These branches are placed on the penitents’ shoulders during the Holy Thursday and Good Friday processions, as they walk through the streets of Taxco while flagellating themselves. It is estimated that around 500 men participate in this yearly event.
Members of the “Devotos de Taxco” congregation have reported receiving calls asking for the names of those participating in the Stations of the Cross. In response to these acts of extortion, the retired Bishop of the Chilpancingo-Chilapa Diocese, Salvador Rangel Mendoza, has called on the criminal organization to not violate their faith in God.
Moreover, the bishop has also denounced the lack of action by the federal and state government to strengthen security in the area. He has stated that organized crime groups have extended their control to the municipalities of Taxco, Pilcaya, Tetipac, and a significant part of the State of Mexico.
Criminal Extortion of Penitents in Taxco, Guerrero
The Stations of the Cross is a significant religious event for Catholics during the Holy Week, wherein penitents commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ by carrying crosses and walking through the streets. However, this tradition has become a target for criminal groups, as they exploit and extort those who participate in the event.
Threats to Sell Thorny Branches for Exorbitant Prices
During the procession, penitents place “zarzas” or thorny branches on their shoulders as a symbol of their repentance. Unfortunately, criminal organizations like “La Familia Michoacana” are now taking advantage of this tradition by threatening to sell these branches for exorbitant prices. They are also demanding extortion money from the penitents, further adding to their burden.
Congregation Members Receiving Calls for Information
The “Devotos de Taxco” congregation has reported receiving calls asking for the names of those participating in the Stations of the Cross. These calls are likely coming from the criminal group, as they attempt to gather information to carry out their extortion schemes. The congregation members have become wary of these calls, and they are now taking steps to protect themselves and their community.
Bishop Denounces Lack of Government Action and Criminal Control
The retired Bishop of the Chilpancingo-Chilapa Diocese, Salvador Rangel Mendoza, has expressed his concern over the lack of government action to address the issue of organized crime in the area. He has called on the government to take action to ensure the safety and security of the people. He also emphasized that the criminal group’s actions are a violation of the penitents’ faith in God, and it should not be tolerated.