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Major Mexican Cartel Leader Arrested

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

One of the most wanted drug traffickers in Mexico was captured this morning. His name is Servando Gomez, also known as La Tuta, a reference to his days as a schoolteacher. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, the arrest happened in the southern state of Michoacan, an area he ruled for years with religious zeal and ruthlessness.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It was a low-key takedown for the leader of the deadly Knights Templar drug cartel, who repeatedly bragged he would rather die than go to jail. Authorities say Servando Gomez, who had a $2 million bounty on his head, was arrested in the state capital without a single shot fired. Gomez was said to be in hiding for the past two years but not silent.

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KAHN: Unlike most traffickers, he frequently posted videos on YouTube. Like this one last year, where he's seen handing out money to women in a small town. He also was a repeat caller to radio and TV stations. Known by the nickname La Tuta, Gomez, once a schoolteacher, portrayed himself as a folksy, Robin Hood-savior, who preached a strict code of conduct. But the cartel terrorized Michoacan for years, dominating the drug trade then turning to extortion, kidnapping and stealing millions from local iron mines and the state's rich agricultural exports. It's unclear whether a new leader is in the wings for the now weakened cartel. Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.