Chocolate Cakes Helps Mexican Federal Agents Arrest Drug Cartel Leader
He traveled by four-wheeler and on horseback. He lived in caves and on secluded mountain ranches, surrounded by his bodyguards and logistics men who kept his meth-dealing cartel dominant for years in the western state of Michoacan.
When authorities finally caught up last week with Servando Gómez Martínez, a.k.a. “La Tuta,” the top surviving leader of the Knights Templar cartel and the country’s most-wanted fugitive, they got him with chocolate cake.
That was the dessert that his girlfriend, María Antonieta Luna Ávalos, delivered to his hideout in the colonial town of Morelia on Feb. 6, which happened to be his 49th birthday. When authorities observed that errand, coupled with some shoddy spycraft by his handpicked messenger, a federal police team was able to capture him in the pre-dawn hours of Friday without a shot fired.
“Michoacan now is in a better position,” Federal Police Commissioner Enrique Galindo Ceballos said. “The important parts of the [cartel] structure are neutralized.”
For more than a year, the Mexican government has fought the cartel while also struggling to keep in check the citizens’ militia that rose against the Knights Templar. More than 1,500 people have been arrested, authorities said, and nearly all the top leaders have now been killed or captured. On Monday, Galindo led reporters on a tour of Gómez’s rural hideouts and described how his cartel operated and the ways he evaded capture for so long.
“He felt comfortable here, he felt safe,” Galindo said at Gómez’s farm, set amid forested hills about 25 miles outside Apatzingan. “Practically all this territory he dominated with his men.”
His men controlled about 50 methamphetamine labs and also made millions from illegal mining, extortion and kidnapping. Some of this they redistributed to the locals, a move that helped protect them. “A year ago this was practically inaccessible,” Galindo said.
Federal funding for chocolate cakes bout to go WAAAAAY up.
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