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Mexican marines kill Knights Templar boss ‘El Kike’ Plancarte

April 1, 2014
enrique-plancarte

Knights Templar leader Enrique “El Kike” Plancarte was killed by marines in Colon, Queretaro.

Enrique “El Kike” Plancarte Solis, the leader of Mexico’s infamous Knights Templar drug cartel, was killed by marines on Monday evening in the central state of Queretaro. 

Plancarte was shot dead after resisting arrest sometime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the town of Colon. Over 150 marines and federal police officers backed by two helicopters are said to have participated in the operation, which lasted over 24 hours as they searched several homes in Colon’s Las Cruces neighborhood.

Samuel Diaz Benitez, an alleged associate of the slain capo, who was arrested (despite offering federal police officers one million pesos to let him go) in the Knights Templar stronghold of Apatzingan, Michoacan on Saturday, is believed to have revealed Plancarte’s whereabouts.

Plancarte had assumed leadership of the Knights Templar cartel alongside Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” after the death of founding member Nazario Moreno last month.  Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) had offered a ten-million-peso reward for information leading to the capture of Plancarte, who was accused of organized crime, drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder and robbery.

Several Mexican media outlets cited federal sources confirming Plancarte’s death on Monday night, but the government will not make an official announcement until forensic tests have been completed. The Felipe Calderon administration famously erred by prematurely announcing Nazario Moreno’s death in December 2010, more than three years before he was finally killed.

Plancarte’s death comes just two weeks after his nephew, Manuel Plancarte Gaspar, was arrested in Tarimbaro, Michoacan, where the state authorities accused him of murdering children and engaging in organ trafficking. Enrique Plancarte’s uncle, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, another high-ranking member of the Knights Templar known as “El Tio,” was also arrested by the Mexican Army in Morelia, Michoacan in January.

Enrique Plancarte’s daughter, the semi-successful pop star Melissa Plancarte, drew controversy to the family earlier this year by posing in outfits adorned with the iconic red cross of the Knights Templar.

An offshoot of the pseudo-religious Familia Michoacana cartel, the Knights Templar dominated drug trafficking in Michoacan in recent years, but has recently been weakened by a grassroots vigilante campaign and a federal offensive aimed at freeing the region from widespread extortion, kidnappings, murder, rape and theft. The death of Plancarte will further damage the cartel, which has already been driven out of many Michoacan towns this year.

The Enrique Peña Nieto administration has killed and captured the leaders of each of Mexico’s most prominent drug gangs since assuming power in December 2012, including the aforementioned Nazario Moreno, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales of Los Zetas, Mario Ramirez Treviño of the Gulf Cartel, and, most significantly, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Federation.

Melissa Plancarte

Knights Templar boss Enrique “El Kike” Plancarte was the father of pop star Melissa Plancarte.

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