Mexico's craziest druglord dies in hail of bullets after epic two-day shoot-out
He was known as 'The Craziest One', and he certainly died that way.
Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, Mexico's most bizarre druglord, has been shot dead after an astonishing two-day shoot-out with federal police.
He is the first from his La Familia drug cartel to fall in President Felipe Calderon's incredibly bloody war on drugs.
Ruthless: Bullet casings lie scattered all over the road after drug kingpin Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, a messianic and violent leader who wielded vast control over the western state of Michoacan, was shot dead
Battle scarred: Bullet holes can be seen in this police van after the shoot-out
Moreno used his charisma to indoctrinate his gang members into a twisted Christian ideology. All the while he was gruesomely decapitating his foes and selling cocaine and methamphetamine by the ton.
He announced the emergence of his La Familia drug cartel four years ago by having his gang roll five severed heads into a Michoacan nightclub .
Moreno - also known as 'El Chayo' or 'The Doctor' - was killed on Thursday.
Cartel gunmen fled with the bodies of their dead, and Moreno's has not been recovered. But a statement from the presidential office insisted it was true.
Police recovered the bodies of three other suspected La Familia members and arrested three others.
'The Craziest One': Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, believed to have been shot dead by police on Thursday, was the messianic leader of La Familia drug cartel
Five officers and three civilians - including an eight-month-old baby and a teenage girl - were also killed in the shootouts.
The epic clash began Wednesday night when La Familia gunmen attacked federal officers in Moreno's home city of Apatzingan and fired on cars.
They torched vehicles across Michoacan and used them as barricades, even blockading all entrances into the state capital of Morelia to prevent federal police from sending reinforcements.
Moreno, 40, was considered the ideological leader of La Familia,
setting a code of conduct for its members that prohibits using hard
drugs or dealing them within Mexican territory.
He purportedly wrote a religiously tinted book of values for the cartel, sometimes known as 'The Sayings of the Craziest One'.
Last line of defence: Residents watch as police officers brace themselves for battle during the raid in Apatzingan, which started on Wednesday evening
Moreno migrated to California as a teenager. There he soon sank into the drugs trade.
In 2003 he was convicted in Texas of dealing marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.
He fled to Mexico - and swiftly began his ascent in the shadowy drug world.
It was in 2006 that he burst forward as the leader of La Familia. The gang - then known as 'The Business' - had broken away from the Gulf cartel.
They declared their independence by rolling five severed heads into a disco
in the mountain city of Uruapan.
A message left with the heads declared:'La Familia doesn't kill for
money, doesn't kill women, doesn't kill innocents.
'Only those who deserve to die will die.'
Fear in their eyes: Police officers stand guard in Apatzingan on Thursday as the raid on La Familia raged
Lockdown: Police shelter behind sandbags as they guard the Federal Commission of Electricity during the raid
Moreno then went on a killing spree aimed at members of the Gulf cartel - and quietly backed by some state and federal law enforcement officials.
La Familia members are believed to undergo a three- to six-month training camp in Michoacan.
'They believe they are doing God's work, and pass out Bibles and money to the poor,'a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration profile says.
They also give money to school and local officials.
The Mexican government claims Moreno 'erected himself as the 'Messiah,' using the Bible to profess to poor people and obtain their loyalty'.
The cartel reportedly takes inspiration from an odd source: the book 'Wild at Heart,' by American evangelical author John Eldredge of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Ransomed Heart Ministries.
Mexico ablaze: Flaming trucks and cars block a road during the raid. The government was unable to send in reinforcements as the battle raged for two days
Twisted metal: Another structure buckles in the flames as police and druglords fought to the death
Last January, authorities in Michoacan seized a car with 23 guns, four grenades - and nine copies of 'Wild at Heart'.
The books had inscriptions signed by 'The Craziest One'.
His wife, meanwhile, hosts self-improvement seminars in Michoacan, including one in April at a club in Apatzingan that was promoted with posters titled 'Let's help create a better future'.
La Familia become one of the biggest methamphetamine
traffickers to the United States.
But now Mexico claims the gang has been severely weakened after four years of fighting off its rivals and security forces.
Several alleged leading La Familia traffickers have been arrested in recent months. One of those suspects, Sergio Moreno Godinez, said under police interrogation last month that the cartel is in decline.
War zone: A colour-coded map showing the territories of Mexico's drug cartels
He confirmed the authenticity of a letter, e-mailed to journalists and dropped on the streets of several towns, saying the cartel is willing to disband if the government can improve security for Michoacan.
'What we have seen in the last days is a criminal organization repudiated by the population, and which has been significantly weakened,' a government spokesman said.
'This is demonstrated by its false calls for a truce and the confessions of its members.'
Mexican authorities put a $2million bounty on Moreno's head in March
His official wanted poster - featuring a fuzzy photograph of a middle-aged man with a thin face and a mustachio - accuses him of drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder.
Mexican authorities believe La Familia operates 'by means of an executive council' compromised of both drug traffickers and government officials, according to the DEA.
In 2009, the Calderon government arrested more than 30 Michoacan state
and local officials, including 12 mayors, accusing them of protecting
The highly touted sweep was meant to show no politicians are immune
But the cases have since unravelled for lack of evidence in one of the biggest setbacks of Calderon's drug war. Only one of the officials - a former mayor - remains in prison.
A sickening 28,000 people have died in Mexico's drug war since 2006.
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