Mexican cartel leader sentenced to 55 years for kidnapping

Mexico City (AFP) –


A judge in Mexico sentenced drug kingpin Servando Gomez to 55 years in prison on Monday following his conviction for kidnapping, authorities said.

Until his arrest by federal police in 2015, Gomez directed the Knights Templar cartel which smuggled drugs to the United States and iron ore to China from its base in the western state of Michoacan.

"He was found responsible for the kidnapping of a businessman in August 2011 in the city of Uruapan," the Michoacan prosecutor's office said, without giving further details.

The former teacher known as "La Tuta" grew the Knights Templar into one of Mexico's major drug cartels, but the group was weakened by the arrests of its leaders including Gomez.

Unlike the more shadowy gangsters of Mexico's underworld, Gomez was a publicity seeker who appeared in television interviews and online videos, including some that showed local politicians casually chatting with him around a table.