March 11, 2014
Authorities in Mexico say they have killed Nazario Moreno, leader of a notorious, if not peculiar drug cartel for the second time.
That’s right, the second time.
Moreno, head of the Knights Templar methamphetamine operation, was reportedly killed by police in a shootout back in 2010. But his body was never recovered following the incident.
Residents of the Michoacan state, which has been plagued by the Knights Templar, have said for the past few years that Moreno was still alive. Some even claimed to have seen him in person. The rumors of his survival fueled a perception of him as a mythical, legendary figure.
Mexican officials now admit that Moreno wasn’t killed four years ago. But they insist he is dead now, following another police raid, this time in Naranjo de Chila.
The operation last Sunday was carried out by the Mexican navy, and an undisclosed number of other people were killed or wounded. Government officials had been under increasing pressure to track down Moreno by citizen militias that have recently taken the law into their own hands against the cartels.
Mexico’s attorney general promises that thorough tests will be conducted to confirm that the body allegedly to be Moreno’s will be identified as such. However, authorities did not hesitate to characterize the killing as a major success in the government’s war against the cartels—“the most important blow to the criminal group that he headed.”
The dead-again tale is not the only peculiar part of this story.
A spinoff of the La Familia cartel, the Knights Templar is itself unique, as drug-fueled mafias go. Members distinguish themselves by wearing white cloaks emblazoned with red crosses, similar to Christian knights during the Crusades, and consider themselves holy warriors despite their peddling meth to drug addicts. They also worship the writings of Moreno, who considered himself something of a religious figure.