Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, has been captured, Mexican police announced.
Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel, was arrested in Morelia in Michoacan state without a shot fired, police officials said.
Previously a school teacher, he became one of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords and took control of Michoacan.
La Tuta Gomez’s capture is a coup for the government of Enrique Pena Nieto in its fight against the drug cartels.
A police spokesman told local media the arrest followed months of intelligence work in the region.
Known by his nicknames “La Tuta” and “El Profe”, Servando Gomez ruled over much of Michoacan state as head of the Knights Templar cartel.
“El Profe” refers to his career as a teacher, while theories abound about the origins of “La Tuta”.
Servando Gomez evaded capture for years while other senior members of the gang and rival drug lords were captured or killed.
By the time of his arrest, he had a $2 million bounty on his head.
Knights Templar was primarily a drug cartel and it controlled a large part of the lucrative methamphetamine trade in western Mexico.
The cartel was also known for mixing in business and politics in the region and even took effective control over the state’s international port, Lazaro Cardenas, making millions of dollars from illegal mining of iron ore.
A federal government offensive in 2013 saw the Pena Nieto administration wrest back control of Michoacan state from the Knights Templar and rival gangs.
As leader of the biggest cartel in the region, Servando Gomez became the prime target of Enrique Pena Nieto’s crackdown.
The administration has been criticized for failing to tackle the drug gangs, with vigilante groups forming to take on the dealers illegally.
Servando Gomez’s arrest comes just over a year after the capture of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Shortly after Joaquin Guzman’s capture, Mexican security forces killed two of Servando Gomez’s senior deputies, Enrique “Kike” Plancarte and Nazario Moreno, known as “The Craziest One”.
Unlike many rival gang leaders who carefully avoided the limelight, Servando Gomez regularly gave media interviews and railed against the government in Youtube videos.
He began life in the drug trade as an small-time marijuana dealer, before joining a Michoacan gang called La Familia and rising to a senior level. A split in La Familia led him to form Knights Templar.
A father of at least seven, Servando Gomez was also wanted by US authorities in connection with the 2009 murder of 12 Mexican federal police officers.
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