Mexico City – A high-level member of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang and three other suspects were captured by army troops in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, officials said.
Saul Solis, a former police chief, was arrested on Monday in Mugica without any shots being fired, thanks to intelligence work, the Defense Secretariat and the Attorney General's Office said in a joint statement.
Mario Alberto Gordillo Rodriguez, Jose Cuitlahuac Rodriguez Rangel, who managed money for the gang, and a minor were also arrested in the military operation.
Solis was named a prime suspect in the May 1, 2007, attack on military personnel in the city of Caracuaro that left a colonel and four enlisted men dead.
The suspect, who served as police chief of the city of Turicato from 2003 to 2005, is the cousin of Enrique Plancarte Solis, one of the top two leaders of Los Caballeros Templarios, the government agencies said.
Plancarte shares the leadership of Los Caballeros Templarios, which was founded by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel earlier this year, with Servando Gomez Martinez.
La Familia Michoacana, which mainly smuggles synthetic drugs into the United States, has been badly weakened by the arrests and killings of its top leaders and the creation of Los Caballeros Templarios.
The cartel began unraveling after top boss Nazario Moreno's death in a shootout with the Federal Police in December 2010, officials and analysts say.
The La Familia faction led by Jesus Mendez, who was arrested in June, has been fighting the group led by Gomez and Plancarte, who formed Los Caballeros Templarios in March.
Solis was in charge of planting illegal crops and trafficking drugs for the gang, as well as overseeing the criminal organization's drug labs, officials said.
He also ran the gang's extortion rackets, staged kidnappings and carried out killings in several cities in Michoacan, as well as in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, the federal agencies said.
Solis has been linked to a number of crimes, including a series of attacks on Federal Police stations in different cities in Michoacan, such as Apatzingan and Morelia, the state capital, in December 2009.
The AG's office was offering a reward of up to 15 million pesos (about $1.13 million) for information leading to the arrest of Solis.
The army seized two firearms and two vehicles from the suspects.
Los Caballeros Templarios, like La Familia, requires members to adhere to a code of conduct and portrays itself as working for the good of the community despite its criminal activities.
Michoacan is on Mexico's Pacific coast, which is used by smugglers to bring drugs into the country.