Servando Gomez, better known as “La Tuta,” head of the brutal "Knights Templar" drug cartel, was arrested by Mexican police early Friday, according to media reports. The former teacher was captured by Mexican federal police while trying to sneak out of a house in the state of Michoacan.
Gomez was arrested along with eight bodyguards and several other associates, who between them held a grenade launcher, three grenades, a machine pistol, and assault rifles, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told The Associated Press. Gomez and his associates were reportedly arrested without any shots being fired.
Mexico's Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that "we have caught the most important target in the fight against organized crime."
Gomez, 49, was the main target of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s policing efforts in the state of Michoacan, which has seen severe violence at the hands of the quasi-religious Knights Templar drug cartel. The cartel reportedly maintained de facto control of Michoacan, instituting a new political and economic system, and even created a system of laws and ethics for those in the state to follow.
Gomez, a former schoolteacher, became one of Mexico’s most-wanted criminals who, for a while, dominated the methamphetamine trade and amassed enough money and support to take control of his home state. Eventually, the gang took over ore refining operations in the state, bolstering their income even further, The Latin Times reported.
In a rare interview with Channel 4 News in January 2014, Gomez said he left teaching because it “wasn’t satisfying,” and justified the Templar's actions before Michoacan’s residents as a “necessary evil,” adding that “if we weren’t here, another group would come.”
In recent months, Peña Nieto’s government has come under widespread criticism for its perceived ineffectiveness in battling crime in Mexico. Opposition to the president has grown stronger since the kidnapping of 43 college students in September, and their alleged killing at the hands of a gang colluding with local authorities.
Since the Mexican government began cracking down on drug cartels in 2007, over 100,000 people have died due to drug-related violence, The Washington Post reported.