Photo: Francisco Galeana Nuñez
A high-ranking gunman with the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel was killed in a shootout with Mexican police in the western state of Michoacan, official sources told Efe.
Francisco Galeana Nuñez, known as “the Panther,” died during a battle with Federal Police in the municipality of Arteaga.
Federal Police and army troops have been deployed in Michoacan for the past month as part of a bid by Mexico’s government to crush the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) and rein-in local militias that arose to protect communities from the cartel.
Federal forces have arrested 675 people in Michoacan since Jan. 14, the Government Secretariat said Wednesday in a bulletin.
Besides nabbing suspected Templarios, soldiers and federal agents have rescued 10 kidnapping victims and seized more than 250 guns, 30 grenades and a rocket-launcher, along with quantities of marijuana and crystal meth.
One of those arrested within the last week, Elias Magaña Madrigal, 42, was identified by media outlets as Galeana’s attorney.
Mexican federal authorities said last April that Galeana perished in a gunfight with police in Charapando, Michoacan.
While subsequent forensic examinations determined the dead man was not Galeana, the federal government never officially retracted the report of his death.
Members and supporters of Michoacan’s self-defense groups organized an event Monday to mark the one-year anniversary of their founding.
Backed by local business interests, the militias filled a vacuum created by the failure of state and municipal authorities to halt kidnapping, extortion and other crimes by the Templarios, who co-opted many of Michoacan’s politicians.