The death of Knights Templar leader “El Chayo” in Mexico has had little outward effect on the group’s leadership structure, though the take down of the group’s spiritual guide could have an impact on ideology and morale.
Following the death of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias “El Chayo,” or “The Craziest One,” in a shootout with security forces in Michoacan, Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” will take over as the top leader of the criminal organization, Michoacan vigilantes stated on their Twitter account, Valor Por Michoacan.
Ahora si Servando Gomez alias “La tuta” quedaría como líder de los templarios y mas abajo quedaría Kike Plancarte alias “la chiva plancarte”
— Valor Por Michoacán (@ValorMichoacan) March 10, 2014
Previously, La Tuta and Enrique “El Kike” Plancarte — now to be second in command, say vigilantes — were used as the visible faces of the Knights Templar, but Moreno was the person in command, according to federal security commissioner Alfredo Castillo.
“They (La Tuta and El Kike) were second level, although it appeared they were the first,” he said, adding that El Chayo was the person making the important decisions behind the scenes, reported Proceso.
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The death of El Chayo confirmed what had been rumored since he was first reported killed in 2010 — that while La Tuta and El Kike were the public faces of the Knights Templar, behind the scenes El Chayo was pulling the strings.
SEE ALSO: El Chayo Profile
La Tuta, who regularly appears in antagonistic propaganda videos and is the most recognized spokesperson for the Knights, was previously thought to be the group’s top leader. It is likely he will now occupy this role for real, meaning a minimum of upheaval in the Knights leadership on the surface. However, it remains to be seen what deeper impact the loss of the group’s ideological and spiritual leader will have.
Despite the loss of El Chayo and suffering several other major blows recently, the Knights Templar are far from dismantled. According to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office, 18 of 27 members of the group’s core structure remain at large.
One of the main factors behind the increased pressure on the Knights has been the emergence of the Michoacan vigilante movement. However, cracks are also beginning to show in their leadership. Two of the movement’s most prominent leaders have accused each other of colluding with the Knights Templar, sparking concerns over an armed confrontation and leading state security forces to intervene.