Head of brutal Mexican cartel killed in shootout, police say
MEXICO CITY — The eccentric leader of the brutal La Familia drug cartel was killed in a shootout during two days of fighting between federal police and gunmen that terrified civilians across a western Mexican state, the government said yesterday.
The death of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez — nicknamed “The Craziest One’’ — is a major blow to a drug cartel that rose to national prominence four years ago by rolling severed heads into a nightclub and declaring that its mission was to protect Michoacan state from rival gangs and petty criminals.
Police believed that Moreno Gonzalez, 40 — also known as “El Chayo’’ or “The Doctor’’ — was killed in a clash Thursday between cartel gunmen and federal police, said Alejandro Poire, the government spokesman for security issues.
In a brief statement, the office of President Felipe Calderon confirmed the death.
Cartel gunmen have been fleeing with their causalities, and Moreno Gonzalez’s body has not been recovered, Poire said.
Police recovered the bodies of three other suspected La Familia members and detained three others.
Five officers and three civilians — including an 8-month-old baby and a teenage girl — were also killed in the shootouts, which began Wednesday night when La Familia gunmen attacked federal officers in Moreno’s home city of Apatzingan and fired on cars.
The gunmen torched vehicles across Michoacan and used them as barricades, even blockading all entrances into its capital of Morelia to prevent federal police from sending reinforcements.
Moreno Gonzalez is considered the ideological leader of La Familia, setting a code of conduct for its members that prohibits using hard drugs or dealing them within Mexican territory.
In February, the US government added Moreno Gonzalez and six other reputed La Familia leaders to its “Kingpin Act’’ list, a move that prohibits American citizens and firms from having any business dealings with them and freezes any US assets they may have.