Drug Cartel Leader Captured In Mexico's Michoacan State

Mexican authorities have arrested one of the top drug cartel leaders in the western state of Michoacan. Federal forces recently moved into the state to disarm civilian vigilantes who have been fighting to reclaim their communities from the cartel.

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We're also following other stories, including this. Mexico's attorney general says federal troops have captured one of the leaders of a ruthless drug cartel in the western state of Michoacan. It's the first arrest of a high-ranking leader in the Knights Templar. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: National Public Safety System spokesman Monte Alejandro Rubido announced the arrest last night in a live televised press conference.

MONTE ALEJANDRO RUBIDO: (Spanish spoken)

KAHN: Rubido says federal forces arrested Dionicio Loya Plancarte without firing a single shot. He added that the cartel kingpin was found hiding in a closet. Loya Plancarte is said to be one of the top five leaders of the Knights Templar cartel. He was presumed injured in a shootout with federal forces last March but showed up in this video two months later.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

DIONICIO LOYA PLANCARTE: (Spanish spoken)

KAHN: Plancarte, also known as El Tio, The Uncle, challenges the civilian armed defense groups operating in Michoacan to a duel. Dozens of so-called self-defense groups have sprouted up in the state in the past year to defend themselves against the cartel. The ongoing standoff has been an embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who sent in thousands of troops this month to restore order. Yesterday, the federal government made moves to legalize the civilian defense groups, ordering them to register their arms and work under the control of local authorities. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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