He knew he’d be caught some day and would “have to pay.” That day arrived early this morning when the presumed leader of the drug cartel Los Caballeros Templarios was captured in the capital of Michoacán by Federal Police.
Servando Gómez Martínez, known as La Tuta, was arrested at 4:00am along with six others in a house in Morelia. There was no resistance and no shots were fired.
La Tuta’s apprehension appears to have begun with a series of operations Wednesday in the municipalities of Arteaga, the gang leader’s home, and Tumbiscatío, in which several people with links to Gómez were arrested.
A fan of tarot cards and cockfights, and a primary school teacher in Arteaga until 2000, Gómez has been characterized by authorities as extremely violent, but he has also gained a reputation as a communicator.
That’s how his college principal described him in an interview with Milenio last year. He was accessible and enjoyed talking with people, said Rafael Guerrero. Before turning to crime, he was supportive of the rural farming community and, ironically, created groups to help young people with addiction problems.
Between 2000 and 2001 he became involved with La Familia Michoacana, and later the Caballeros Templarios, a splinter group that eventually took over much of La Familia’s activities. La Tuta is believed to have been engaged in coordinating drug shipments through Baja California, according to a report by InsightCrime.
He was distinct from other Mexican cartel leaders for his public relations campaigns — appearance in videos posted to social media websites, and even giving interviews. In one, with Fox News in 2013, he claimed his gang was “a necessary evil” whose purpose was the protection of the people of Michoacán from the cartels Jalisco Nueva Generación and Los Zetas.
In an earlier interview in 2009 Gómez praised then President Felipe Calderón and the army and said his gang’s only grievances were with Los Zetas and the Federal Police “for attacking our families.”
But the Caballeros soon faced two foes — federal forces and community vigilante groups that rose up against organized crime in 2013 and 2014.
Gómez has been implicated in murder, kidnapping and extortion in addition to his drug trafficking activities. He has been named responsible for the killing of 12 Federal Police (FP) officers in 2009 and attacks on FP facilities in Michoacán, Guerrero and Guanajuato.
The federal Attorney General had offered a reward of up to 30 million pesos (US $2 million) for information leading to his capture.