Photo: Latin America news
A suspected money man for the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel was arrested by the Federal Police in the central state of Queretaro, the Mexican National Security Council said Tuesday.
Juan Reza Sanchez, who was the subject of a reward totaling up to 5 million pesos (about $378,000), was one of the seven top leaders of the cartel, which operates in the western state of Michoacan.
Reza Sanchez was arrested “without any shots being fired,” the council said.
The date of the suspect’s arrest was not released.
Reza Sanchez is the second high-level Caballeros Templarios member arrested since the federal government launched a wide-ranging operation last month in the crime-ridden Tierra Caliente region, which gets its name from the high temperatures in the area and straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.
Dionisio Loya Plancarte, one of the cartel’s top leaders, was arrested by federal forces on Jan. 27.
Reza Sanchez “started his criminal career under the command of Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas and Nazario Moreno Gonzalez,” later expanding his operations into the United States, the council said.
A federal judge in Tepic, a city in the western state of Nayarit, had issued an arrest warrant on drug and criminal conspiracy charges for Reza Sanchez, the council said.
The arrest was made possible by intelligence gathered by the Federal Police that allowed investigators to track “his location in the states of Jalisco and Tamaulipas, until he was found and captured in Queretaro,” the National Security Council said.
Officers seized an assault rifle, communications gear, a vehicle and documents from the suspect.
The Caballeros Templarios cartel, a quasi-religious criminal organization, was formed following the death of Familia Michoacana boss Nazario Moreno in a shootout with the security forces in 2010.
The gang quickly took control of the illegal drug trade in Michoacan and expanded into other states.
Civilians began arming themselves in Michoacan last year to fight the cartel.
The Caballeros Templarios, which deals in both synthetic and natural drugs, commits murders, stages kidnappings and runs extortion rackets that target business owners and transport companies.
The cartel uses Michoacan’s 270 kilometers (168 miles) of coastline to smuggle chemical drug precursors for the production of synthetic drugs into Mexico.
The federal government deployed soldiers and police in Michoacan on Jan. 13 in an effort to end the wave of violence in the state.