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Mexican vigilantes search caves in hunt for cartel leader

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MEXICO CITY — Members of a self-defense group in western Mexico are searching an extensive cave system in the hunt for the last fugitive leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel.

Vigilante leader Estanislao Beltran said Thursday there are signs that the Knights Templar cartel used the caves near the town of Arteaga as a hideout.

The vigilantes and federal forces took control of Arteaga three days ago. Arteaga is located in western Michoacan state, and is the hometown of cartel leader Servando "La Tuta" Gomez.

The cartel's other top leaders have been captured or killed.

Beltran said vigilantes are still searching the cave system, which appears to lead into a nearby valley.

The self-defense group sprang up a year ago to fight the cartel's extortion demands, kidnappings and killings.

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