Mexican authorities have captured the top leader of a major drug cartel, who has been wanted for years, Al Jazeera has learned.

Servando Gomez Martinez, also known as "La Tuta", was reportedly captured on Friday in the city of Morelia, in Michoacan state, according to local media.

Al Jazeera's John Holman, who is reporting from Mexico City, said that Martinez was arrested "without an incident".

Servando Gomez Martinez
  • Gomez's nickname "La Tuta" came from his career as a school teacher before he became involved in drugs.

  • Heading up the Knights Templar Cartel,  Gomez used the media to his advantage and became one of Mexico's most well-known drug bosses. 

  • He was President Enrique Pena Nieto's prime target in his offensive against drug violence.

Our correspondent said Martinez is now being transferred to a detention centre in Mexico City.  

He has been wanted by both Mexico and the US, and authorities have offered a reward of $2m for his capture.  

Martinez is identified as the head of the cartel Caballeros Templarios, or Knights Templar, one of the leading drug gangs that has been involved in violent operation in Mexico.

Martinez was once a school teacher, thus earning him the name "La Tuta."

The 49-year-old cartel leader was the prime target of President Pena Nieto's drive to regain control of Michoacan, which has been wracked by clashes between the Knights Templar and the heavily-armed citizen groups trying to oust them.

The arrest came just over a year after the capture of Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling gangs in the world.

Al Jazeera's Holman, however, said that it is unclear if the latest arrest could calm the situation in Michoacan, or create a "power vacuum" that could lead to more violence.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies