Five suspected gunmen, including a regional boss of the Los Caballeros Templarios cartel, died in a shootout with an army patrol in the western state of Michoacan, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.An army patrol came under fire on April 4 from gunmen traveling in two vehicles in Patzimaro de Aviña, a community outside the city of Churintzio, the secretariat said.
Soldiers returned fire, killing five people, including Esteban Hernandez Barajas, who was the Los Caballeros Templarios boss in the cities of La Piedad, Numaran, Zinaparo, Ecuandureo and Yurecuaro, all in Michoacan, as well as in Penjamo and Santa Ana Pacueco, which are in Guanajuato state, the secretariat said.
Hernandez Barajas had been linked to numerous attacks on military personnel and federal, state and municipal officials.
Soldiers seized eight grenades, seven assault rifles, seven pistols, 91 ammunition clips, nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition and two vehicles.
Los Caballeros Templarios was created in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.
Servando Gomez Martinez shares the leadership of Los Caballeros Templarios with Enrique Plancarte.
Police have seized tunics with red crosses on them from Caballeros Templarios members, as well as pamphlets inspired by the Crusades.
La Familia Michoacana, which specializes in smuggling synthetic drugs into the United States, also uses religious symbolism and refers to the killings it commits as “divine justice.”