Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican Knights Templar drug lord 'Kike' Plancarte killed

Enrique Plancarte
Image caption Mexican officials say they compared old photos to pictures of the body to confirm "Kike" Plancarte's identity

Mexican security forces say they have killed one of the leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel.

Enrique Plancarte, known as Kike, was shot dead during an operation in the central state of Queretaro on Monday.

His identity was confirmed by fingerprint tests and the analysis of old and recent photographs.

The death of Plancarte is being seen as another coup for the government of Enrique Pena Nieto in the fight against the drug cartels.

Last month, Mexican marines killed another Knights Templar leader - Nazario Moreno, known as The Craziest One.

But the most significant development in the fight against the powerful drug cartels was the arrest, in February, of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was considered the world's most wanted drug lord. He had been on the run since escaping from a high security prison in Mexico in 2001.

Vigilante groups

Plancarte had been living for at least a month in a simple house in the town of Colon, in Queretaro state, according to residents.

Mexican security forces had been monitoring his movements and stormed the house on Monday night.

Plancarte was taken by helicopter to a hospital, but died of his injuries.

He was considered by most analysts as the second in command in the criminal gang, says the BBC's Will Grant in Mexico City.

The organisation is believed to be led by Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta", who is still at large.

The Knights Templar operate mainly in central and western Mexico.

In January, vigilante groups began a series of operations in Michoacan state to expel the group from the region.

The vigilantes took control of several towns before federal forces were deployed to the area.

The Mexican government invited the vigilantes to join the official security forces and carry on the fight against the cartel.

Farmers in the fertile area known as Tierra Caliente say they are victims of extortion and kidnappings carried out by the Knights Templar.

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