04/01/14 — The Mexican government delivered yet another major blow to the Knights Templar Organization (Caballeros Templarios, KTO) with the killing of the criminal organization’s leader and co-founder, Enrique “Kike” Plancarte Solís (43). The Mexican Navy killed Plancarte in a shootout on Monday, April 1 in the municipality of Colón, Querétaro. The joint operation with the Army involved nearly 200 military troops and two helicopters, and took more than 24 hours. The newly appointed head of the National Security Commission (Comisión Nacional de Seguridad, CNS), Monte Alejandro Rubido, confirmed that the victim was indeed Plancarte after the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) concluded its forensic investigations. Two other suspects were detained in Monday’s operation.
Plancarte was one of the four remaining KTO leaders that federal forces and self-defense groups in Michoacán have been targeting recently. Leader Dionicio “El Tío” Ioya Plancarte was arrested earlier this year on January 27, and less than two month later, federal forces killed leader Nazario “El Chayo” Moreno González on March 9. Plancarte’s death leaves only Servando “La Tuta” Gómez Martínez in charge of the KTO.
Plancarte’s death came just days after KTO member Samuel Díaz Benítez (32), who allegedly worked under Plancarte as a drug trafficker, was arrested in Apatzingán, Michoacán. Officials seized over $36,500 pesos ($2,800 USD) and a heavy firearm with almost 60 used and unused rounds of ammunition during Díaz’s arrest. The information Mexico’s Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada, SEIDO) received from Díaz, who offered authorities $1 million pesos ($76,500 USD) for his immediate release, led to Plancarte’s location in Querétaro.
The Knights Templar Organization formed in 2010 after splitting from criminal organization La Familia Michoacana. Based primarily in Michoacán, KTO’s presence in the communities has been one of the main reasons behind the rise of self-defense groups in Michoacán. Read more about that ongoing development here.