A leader of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang was arrested in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato along with nine associates, including three former police officers, prosecutors said.
Samuel Reynoso Garcia, who is suspected of being Los Caballeros Templarios’ leader in the state, served as a police officer for 14 years in the neighboring state of Michoacan, Guanajuato Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre said.
Reynoso Garcia, who went by the alias Inocencio Carranza Reynoso, was arrested by police on Monday in the city of Celaya, Zamarripa said.
The suspect’s cell, which controlled street sales of drugs in the area, is suspected of being behind at least 15 murders, the attack in June on police in Celaya that left an officer and two civilians dead, and numerous kidnappings and extortion rackets, the AG said.
The gang received assistance from Celaya officials, including police officers and land registry employees, who provided information about victims’ assets, Zamarripa said.
The suspects carried out kidnappings, ran extortion rackets and committed murders in Celaya and nearby cities, targeting business owners, professionals and transport company operators, among others, the AG said.
A list of more than 500 people who assisted the gang was found at one of the 15 safe houses raided by authorities, Zamarripa said.
The gang documented all of its activities, keeping detailed records on the people it tortured and beheaded, the AG said.
“We were able to secure the files, both physical and electronic, on all the criminal organization’s members, including the resumes of each one, the organization chart, communications codes, a log of their activities (and) a description of each member’s daily activities,” Zamarripa said.
The suspects revealed important information to investigators that will allow authorities to dismantle the gang in Michoacan, the AG said.
“Samuel Reynoso Garcia revealed that he played soccer last weekend in Michoacan with Servando Gomez Martinez, alias ‘La Tuta,’ founder of Los Caballeros Templarios,” Zamarripa said.
Police found 250,000 pesos ($18,385) in cash, marijuana, 460 doses of cocaine, 72 doses of crack cocaine and 10 vehicles at the safe houses, the AG said.
Jorge Gallardo, Carlos Ricardo Lara and Arturo Rodriguez, all former police officers, were arrested along with Reynoso Garcia.
The other suspects detained in the operation were identified as Cuautli Gonzalez, Juan Edgar Valdez, Martin Ivan Valdez, Miriam Isabel Torres, Horacio Francisco Guerrero and Miguel Angel Medina.
Los Caballeros Templarios was created by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.
La Familia has been badly weakened by the arrests and killings of several of its top leaders, and the creation of Los Caballeros Templarios.
The cartel began unraveling after top boss Nazario Moreno’s death in a shootout with the Federal Police in December 2010, officials and analysts say.
Servando Gomez Martinez shares the leadership of Los Caballeros Templarios with Enrique Plancarte.
The La Familia faction led by Jesus Mendez, who was arrested in June, has been fighting the group led by Gomez and Plancarte, who formed Los Caballeros Templarios in March.