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The religious aspect of mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana “is all propaganda.”

An officer guards a charred bus after a police convoy was ambushed in Zitácuaro, a city in eastern Michoacán state. Twelve officers were killed. Getty Images.

As the leader of one of Mexico’s most ruthless criminal gangs, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez is the mastermind of hair-raising brutality in his native Michoacán state. He also would like the world to know he has a pious, loving and huggy-kissy side, and so he’s penned a booklet titled “Thoughts”, says Tim Johnson in an article for the  McClatchy Newspapers published by The Seattle Times.

“If you want to say ‘I love you!’ to those who surround you and to your friends, say it today,” the drug lord exhorts readers.

In the 104-page booklet, published this year, he offers advice on personal empowerment, Christian living and proper deportment.

“Manners are a way of showing respect for others,” he writes. “If you don’t have them, don’t expect to be respected.”

If it seems bizarre for the leader of a drug gang that beheads or quarters enemies to offer advice on Christian living, well, maybe. However, the gang known as La Familia Michoacana is a pseudo-Christian posse that mixes zeal and inspiring slogans in its pronouncements. Members are ordered to study the Bible and pray the rosary, even as they gun down police, dismember opponents and manufacture highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.

Unlike other Mexican drug cartels, La Familia portrays itself as religious and patriotic and deeply tied to the mountains and plains of Michoacán state. The group has a U.S. distribution network and funnels marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine to more than a dozen cities, including Seattle.

La Familia’s thousands of members often are recruited from drug- and alcoholism-rehabilitation centers and sent to training courses at secret safe houses in Michoacán.

“They bring in motivational speakers to their indoctrination sessions. Again, it’s the U.S. Army ‘be-all-you-can-be,’ ‘you can take your life in your own hands,’ ‘you can chart your future,’ ” said George Grayson, a scholar of contemporary Mexico at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Grayson said the religious aspect of La Familia “is all propaganda.”

“Nazario touts the Bible-pounding and often excuses their savage acts as being the work of the Lord, but I don’t think there is an iota of religious conviction.”

One might gain a different idea upon reading “Thoughts,” filled with images of the Bible, crosses and Jesus. “If you want, you can become a good Christian,” it says on one page. “Remember not to build walls or barriers but instead build bridges to unite people.”

Like most of the short essays, it’s…READ MORE HERE.

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