A most-wanted drug lord who once terrorized western Michoacan state was captured early today by federal police, according to a Mexican official. Servando "La Tuta" Gomez was arrested in the capital city of Morelia without a shot fired, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Gomez was the leader of the Knights Templar cartel, a quasi-religious criminal group that once ruled all of the state, controlling politics and commerce. He evaded capture for more than a year after the federal government took over the state to try to restore order.
Known countrywide as "La Tuta," Gomez rose from schoolteacher to one of Mexico's most ruthless and wanted cartel leaders, dominating for a time Mexico's lucrative methamphetamine trade and taking control of his home state through extortion, intimidation, and coercion of business and political leaders. Though it started in drugs, his gang even took over the state's international port, Lazaro Cardenas, and made millions from the illegal mining of ore. Gomez was a talkative and public cartel leader, a rarity among capos known for keeping their silence; in a January interview, he explained that his illegal work was all about business. "As we told you, we are a necessary evil," Gomez is seen telling a group of townspeople on tape. "Unfortunately or fortunately we are here. If we weren't, another group would come." (Read more Knights Templar cartel stories.)