Nazario Moreno: The second death of 'The Crazy One'

Federal police stand guard during a raid where security forces fought cartel members in 2010. Credit: Reuters

A drug baron who was falsely reported dead four years ago has been killed in a shootout with marines in Mexico.

Nazario "El Mas Loco" Moreno was the then head of the La Familia cartel, a powerful criminal gang that has domanited the western state of Michoacan. He was reported killed by the government during a gun battle in 2010 but his body was never recovered. Many felt he was still alive.

The authorities were awaiting DNA tests for final confirmation that they have the body of Moreno "The Craziest One", who had emerged as the leader of a new group of criminals, the Knights Templar cartel.

Moreno's death would be one of the more bizarre twists in Mexico's assault on drug cartels, in which two others of the country's most powerful capos have been captured in the last year without a shot fired.

Mexican police said the shoot-out happened near the farming hub of Apaztingan in the heart of western Michoacan state, where the Knights Templar have ruled through stealing, killing and extortion.

The death of Moreno marks another major victory for President Enrique Peña Nieto's government in its campaign to bring Mexico's powerful drug gangs to heel.

The country's most wanted drug baron, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, was captured last month. He surrendered peacefully after 13 years on the run when marines raided his flat in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.