Knights Templar Drugs Cartel leader Loya Plancarte Captured, Will It Make Any Difference?

Knights Templar, a Mexican drugs cartel, has lost one of its most important leaders.

Mexican forces have captured Dionicio Loya Plancarte, known as El Tio (The Uncle), in western Michoacan state, according to officials.

El Tio had a price on his head in the form of a 30 million peso ($2.2 milion) bounty for drug offenses and money-laundering.

After vigilantes clashed with gang members. troops were deployed to Michoacan earlier this month. The Knights Templar drug cartel emerged in 2011 as an offshoot of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

IIn a piece of supreme irony, or cynicism, it took its name from a Christian military order from the Middle Ages. In an effort to promote a positive image, the Knights Templar organization claimed to protect Michoacan residents from kidnappings, extortion and robberies committed by rival gangs

In reality, it controls much of the methamphetamine and marijuana trade in western Mexico.

Groups of vigilantes have accused the government of not doing enough to protect locals from extortion and violence. So, armed with high-powered weapons, they have expelled the Knights Templar from some of their strongholds in the Tierra Caliente region.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong applauded the arrest of Mr Loya Plancarte “He was detained thanks to the work of our intelligence team, the work of our federal agencies which have shown that you can achieve results when you work this way.”

He added: “It is not through violence that you can stop [gang members] and detain them, but through the institutional work of the Mexican government, to restore peace to the Mexican people.”

Actually, the federal government signed an agreement with vigilante leaders to deploy their members as needed.

“These units will be temporary and will be under the control of the authorities,” it said in a statement, “to cooperate with the troops in the activities that these carry out and when required by the military command”.

The Knights Templar say the that some of the vigilantes are carrying powerful assault weapons which proves they are not local farmers but are in the pay of the rival New Generation gang.

The government does not accept that it has lost its grip on Michoacan despite the increase in the number of troops and police in the state in the past year.

Will losing one leader stop the Knights Templars? Most unlikely – the demand for their product will doubtless ensure their survival.