Photo: Nazario Moreno
Authorities in the western Mexican state of Michoacan arrested a suspect accused of carrying out the orders of late Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) cartel boss Nazario Moreno.
In a joint statement, the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office and that state’s Public Safety Secretariat said the detainee, Pedro Naranjo Garcia, is suspected of homicide and violations of laws on inhumations and exhumations.
Acting on orders from Moreno, who was known as “El Chayo,” Naranjo allegedly planned the killings of 15 members of a single family in the municipality of Tumiscatio in mid-August of last year and subsequently ordered the bodies be buried, the statement said.
It added that based on information provided by the suspect, the multiple homicide was ordered because the family members were working at a ranch located in a strategic area for Moreno’s illegal activities.
Moreno, a powerful drug trafficker reported killed in a shootout with federal law enforcement agents in 2010, died in a gunfight with soldiers in Michoacan in March.
The administration of former President Felipe Calderon had said in December 2010 that Moreno was killed near the city of Apatzingan, Michoacan, but it never produced the body and inhabitants of the region insisted he was still alive.
Moreno was the one-time leader of the Familia Michoacana drug cartel and was apparently one of the top leaders of the Caballeros Templarios cartel until his death.
The Caballeros Templarios organization, formed by former Familia Michoacana members, deals in both synthetic and natural drugs, commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies in Michoacan.
The cartel uses Michoacan’s 270 kilometers (168 miles) of coastline to smuggle chemical drug precursors for the production of synthetic drugs into Mexico.
Civilians began arming themselves last year to fight the gang, which operates across Michoacan.
The federal government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13 in an effort to end the wave of violence in the state.