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'El Panther' was arrested Wednesday. 'El Panther' was arrested Wednesday.

Security forces capture Santa Rosa cartel leader in Guanajuato

The cartel leader tried to escape capture by surgically altering his appearance, but to no avail

Authorities have captured Fernando Emmanuel “N,” also known as “El Panther,” leader of the powerful Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL), according to the Guanajuato Attorney General’s Office.

The suspect, who is wanted for a number of crimes, was captured in an operation led by the state criminal investigation agency with the assistance of other state and federal authorities. The authorities did not share where the operation took place.

“El Panther” had taken great pains to avoid capture, even undergoing cosmetic surgery to change his appearance with face and hair grafts. He was apprehended with a “large, very peculiar” firearm, authorities reported.

“El Panther” was designated leader by José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez, who was captured in August of last year. “El Marro” was followed by Adán “El Azul” Ochoa as cartel leader, but Ochoa was captured in October.

The CSRL operates in the center of the country, where it is fighting a territorial war with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). The repeated loss of leaders diminished the power of the cartel, but it remains firmly rooted in Guanajuato where it operates in municipalities including Celaya, Villagrán and Cortazar.

For the past four years, Guanajuato has been the state with the most murders in Mexico, with nine out of 10 incidents having some kind of link to fights between criminal organizations.

With reports from Expansión Política

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