In shocking news heard around the world yesterday, headlines proclaimed: Mexico Captures Most Wanted Drug Kingpin. Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, the 49 year old former schoolteacher and head of the notorious Knights Templar drug cartel was apprehended by Mexican federal authorities. No shots were fired, as one of the world’s most wanted men was led away in handcuffs wearing his signature baseball cap.Under intense pressure from all quarters, President Enrique Peña Nieto made the announcement of Gomez’s arrest along with other heavily armed cartel members who were expected to be transferred to Mexico City from Morelia in the western state of Michoacan. Long the stronghold of the Knights Templar, Gomez virtually controlled the state with death squads, bribery, kidnapping, and extortion.Heralded by some as a folk hero, he’d built schools, fed the poor and provided medical care to the mountainous region’s indigenous farming population while a helpless government watched with horror as Guzman murdered opponents with impunity, openly buying political and police protection with wads of narco-fueled cash. After taking over one of Mexico’s largest seaports, the gang expanded into illegal timber and mining exports while consolidating iron-clad control of Michoacan and its resources with their campaign of terror, torture, and murder.The words “Mexico captures most wanted drug kingpin” were celebrated across the border in the U.S. as well, where Gomez has long been wanted for methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking. According to a report by Reuters
, Flavio Gomez, the cartel’s money man and La Tuta’s brother, was also taken into custody by Mexican authorities in the eastern state of Yucatan. With more than 100,000 deaths since 2007, Peña Nieto’s administration has come under heavy fire for not doing more to quell the beleaguered nation’s violence and bloodshed.Gomez is widely believed to be responsible for the murder of 12 Mexican federal police in 2009 that led to the $2 million bounty on his head. After matriculating from teaching children to killing them, La Tuta earned his notoriety the illegal way. Unsatisfied with a teacher’s pay, he began by selling marijuana and later worked his way up through the ranks of another cartel, La Familia Michoacana. Both families, since splitting, have claimed the mantle of quasi-religious righteousness in their factious wars. Much like the rampaging crusaders of old, the Knights Templar, temporarily headless, have left a trail of blood, destruction, and national instability in their wake.Before popping the champagne corks, both countries should remember last year’s headline: Mexico Captures Most Wanted Drug Kingpin. Sound familiar? It should. Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, leader of the infamous Sinaloa cartel, was also apprehended with great fanfare across the continental divide. Neither stemming the tide of violence, nor restoring order, nations awash in bloody drug money and addiction have little to celebrate on either side of a porous, poisonous border.
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