Carlos Rosales Mendoza
Carlos Rosales Mendoza's body was found with three others by a motorway on Monday Mexican Police handout

The body of the founder of one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels, La Familia Michoacana, has been discovered on a motorway after being tortured and murdered. Carlos Rosales Mendoza's body was found with three others by a motorway in the western state of Morelia, after he was shot dead.

Rosales Mendoza founded the cartel, infamous for its extreme violence. He was one of the world's most wanted criminals, featuring on the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)'s most wanted list. La Familia's violent hit men were said to believe that they had a "divine right" to kill and dismember their enemies.

But Rosales Mendoza claimed that they had defended the poor and encouraged the drug traffickers operating under him to never use the drugs they transported. But they were accused of brutal attacks on rivals which included multiple beheadings and execution style killings.

La Familia were said to have thrown five severed heads of rival gangs onto a nightclub floor in Uruapan, Michoacán, with a note that said: "The Family doesn't kill for money. It doesn't kill women. It doesn't kill innocent people, only those who deserve to die. Know that this is divine justice."

All four bodies were found in the car park of a tollbooth with forensic experts saying they had been tortured and killed elsewhere before being dumped. Mexican officials have not released details of who they believe is responsible for the murders.

Alleged to have been a drug trafficker since the 1980's, Mendoza forged alliances with the Gulf and Zetas cartels as he made a name for himself in the Mexican underworld. He founded La Familia Michoacana, or the Michoacan Family, in 2000.

During his years running cocaine and other illicit drugs in the state, east of Mexico City, he is said to have fostered the development of other notorious drug lords. They included former leader of the Knights Templar Cartel Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, and former Knights Templar bosses Enrique "El Kike" Plancarte and Dionicio "El Tio" Loya Plancarte.

He served time in a Mexican prison whilst his former understudies created a new cartel – The Knights Templar. The Knights has been involved in violent confrontations with security forces and local vigilante groups ever since.

Rosales Mendoza was believed to have been attempting to forge a way back into drug running before he was killed.