Authorities in Mexico have arrested one of the last main leaders of the Knights Templar crime group, likely leaving the organization's already debilitated leadership in further disarray and raising questions about which organized crime groups may try to capitalize on their weakening.
Ignacio Rentería Andrade, alias "El Cenizo," was arrested in the Parácuaro municipality of Mexico's western state of Michoacán on June 21 after a confrontation between armed individuals and soldiers, Proceso reported.
Rentería Andrade is the alleged leader of the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios), and reportedly had the largest territorial leadership of the group, Milenio reported.
Rentería Andrade is expected to be transferred to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Investigations (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada - SEIDO) to be questioned by federal authorities, Proceso reported.
Michoacán Gov. Silvano Aureoles congratulated authorities on the capture in a statement on his Twitter account, and said that Rentería Andrade was one of the "main objectives" in the state's security strategy.
InSight Crime Analysis
Rentería Andrade's arrest signals the further demise of the once-powerful Knights Templar. The group's leadership was gravely weakened after a series of deaths and arrests in 2014. One alleged top leader, Jesús Vázquez Macías, alias "El Toro," was arrested in January, and in March, another leader, Nazario Moreno González, alias "El Chayo," was killed in a shootout with security forces in Michoacán. Just weeks after that, the criminal organization's second-in-command, Enrique Plancarte, alias "El Kike," was killed in another firefight with the Mexican Navy.
SEE ALSO: Knights Templar News and Profile
Servando Gomez, alias "La Tuta," later took control over the Knights Templar as offensives by vigilante groups and state security forces in Michoacán placed increasing pressure on the group. But that didn't last long. Gomez was arrested by an elite Mexican police force in February 2015. Many felt that his capture effectively signaled the end of the Knights Templar.
SEE ALSO: CJNG Profile
Rentería Andrade's arrest may be a final nail in the Knights Templar coffin. Most likely to seize upon the power vacuum left behind is the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (Jalisco Cartel - Nueva Generación - CJNG). The CJNG has transformed into one of Mexico's most important organized crime groups, displacing other formerly notorious groups like the Knights Templar as they have become weakened.