Cartel leader found dead on highway was tortured, executed by former ally, Mexico says

The founder of the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana was one of four men found dead at a toll booth on a highway in western Mexico, authorities have confirmed, and a former ally is being pointed at as his alleged killer.

The bullet-ridden bodies of Carlos Rosales Mendoza, 53, alias "El Tisico" ("The Tuberculous") and three of his associates were found early Monday morning. Rosales Mendoza was considered the leader of La Familia cartel as well as the Knights Templar, which were affiliated groups.

According to Michoacán prosecutor José Martín Godoy, the killings were a result of betrayal and power struggle within the groups. In an interview with El Universal, one of Mexico’s leading newspapers, Godoy said he has evidence that Rosales Mendoza held a meeting with vigilante members and the Templar’s current leader, Ignacio Rentería Andrade, alias “El Cenizo,” (“The Ash-Colored”).

The prosecutor said Rentería and Rosales Mendoza had a difference of opinion during that meeting and, as a result, Rentería executed the cartel leader and the three lieutenants who were with him.

Rosales’ body showed signs of extreme torture, some media outlets reported. All four bodies were dumped in the parking lot of a toll booth in the Uspero municipality.

According to Mexico News Daily, a recent report revealed Rosales Mendoza, who had been released from prison in May 2014 after serving 10 years, was attempting to reactivate the Knights Templar and retake control of drug operations in the area.

Since 2013, Michoacán has been afflicted by increasing drug violence and an armed uprising by vigilante groups who sought to kick the Knights Templar out of the state.

Prosecutor Godoy said there is an active search for Rentería, for whom there is a  reward of 10 million pesos (more than $580,000). He said police have captured 17 Templar members believed to be close to El Cenizo.

“El Cenizo will be captured as will the other targets ... because they cannot be stronger than the state,” he told Universal. “Consider it done."

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