Mexico's armed forces have reportedly killed Knights Templar leader Enrique "El Kike" Plancarte in a shootout. His death comes just weeks after the killing of the Knights' main leader Nazario "El Chayo" Moreno, leaving the besieged group with an increasingly uncertain future.
The Interior Ministry (SEGOB) announced on Twitter that authorities were in the process of confirming the identity of a man killed in a confrontation with the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), believed to be "El Kike" Plancarte, second-in-command of the Knights Templar criminal organization.
Se está verificando la identidad de Enrique Plancarte, presumiblemente abatido en un enfrentamiento con @SEMAR_mx. Mañana más información.
— SEGOB México (@SEGOB_mx) April 1, 2014
According to Animal Politico, the shootout occurred in a church in Colon, in the south-central state of Queretaro, where El Kike had sought refuge.
Two days earlier, Samuel Diaz Benitez, an alleged operator for El Kike, was captured in Michoacan. Government sources said Benitez provided key information for the operation against his boss, reported Excelsior.
InSight Crime Analysis
Following the recent killing of founder and spiritual leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo," El Kike was believed to have become the Knights Templar's second-in-command, behind Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta," who remains at large. Plancarte's death, if confirmed, would be the latest in a series of captures and killings of the group's leadership, and would mean two of the group's top three leaders have now been taken down.
SEE ALSO: Knights Templar News and Profiles
According to Animal Politico, there are still four active leaders of the organization, including La Tuta. Nonetheless, it appears the Knights Templar are on the ropes. The offensive launched by both state and vigilante forces is taking its toll, and the group seems to be reeling.
Yet while the downfall of the Knights Templar would be an apparent victory for the state, it is unlikely this would represent the restoration of law and order in Michoacan.
The Knights themselves are a product of the fall of a once mighty Michoacan group -- the Familia Michoacana -- and it is likely their own demise would spawn successors. Even if this does not happen, there are numerous groups that could fill the vacuum, including their rivals the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG), and even their tormentors in the self-defense militia movement, who have also been linked to drug trafficking organizations.