Mexico has scored another coup in the narco-insurgency. On February 27—in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan—Servando “La Tuta” Gomez was rolled up by Mexican police. “La Tuta,” also known as “El Profe” (The Professor) because of his past as a teacher, was the “spiritual” and operational leader of the Caballeros Templarios, the Knights Templar Cartel. The other such leader, Nazario “El Mas Loco” Moreno, the author of “Pensamientos,” the Knight’s Templar’s “spiritual manual,” was killed last year, though he had been reported dead twice before that.
After last year’s capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, “La Tuta” became the most high-profile capo on Mexico’s wanted list. His high profile came as a result of his own actions; Gomez utilized video and social media a great deal, both to attack his enemies and to justify the Caballeros Templarios’ actions. Many times, he accused the government and rival drug trafficking organizations of doing far worse than what his organization was accused of. But much of this bluster was covering for the fact that his organization was falling apart.
With the rise of the autodefensas, as well as rival criminal groups such as Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generacion, the Caballeros Templarios found themselves on the defensive in Michoacan. In the last two years, there has been a flood of desertions from the Templarios, and Gomez has spent much of that time on the run and in hiding.
Violence in Michoacan has not lessened with the crumbling of the Knights Templar, however. Infighting between autodefensas militias, as well as the CJNG moving into the Michoacan “plaza,” has kept the homicide levels quite high. Insight Crime suggests that there may be three reasons for rising violence in the state: