APATZINGAN (Reuters) - Mexican security forces killed a top leader of the cult-like La Familia drug cartel, the government said on Friday, after a days-long shootout brought chaos and escalating violence to western Mexico. Nazario Moreno, known as The Craziest One, was killed late on Thursday in Calderons home state of Michoacan where La Familia controls methamphetamine trafficking and marijuana fields and operates extortion rings. Diverse pieces of information obtained during the raid all indicate that Nazario Moreno Gonzalez was killed yesterday, national security spokesman Alejandro Poire said. Morenodubbed by officials as the spiritual leader of the cartelran La Familia with a pseudo-religious philosophy preaching Bible scripture mixed with self-help slogans to prevent gang members from abusing drugs. The group promotes the idea that it protects the local population from other traffickers and gives gifts to the poor. Founded in 2000 under a different name, the cartel is also known for its brutality, first bursting onto the public stage four years ago by tossing severed heads into a disco in the town of Uruapan. Violence flared on Wednesday night in Michoacan when federal police and security forces streamed into the town of Apatzingan, responding to an anonymous call reporting the presence of armed men. At least 11 people were killed as security forces fought cartel members in ensuing street battles, including five police officers and three drug traffickers. The authorities did not specify exactly where Moreno was killed and said gunmen were retrieving the bodies of dead and wounded cartel members, making the number of casualties unclear. Three civilians, among them an 8-month-old baby and a teenager, died in the clashes that brought a new level of violence to Michoacan, where Calderon first launched his army-backed drug war in late 2006. Some 33,000 people have been killed in drug violence over the past four years across Mexico, worrying Washington and some investors who are freezing investment just as the country pulls out of a recession. Dozens of cars and buses were set on fire to create roadblocks around the state capital of Morelia and shops and schools closed in Apatzingan as scared residents stayed inside. On Friday, some 300 heavily armed marines moved into the remote areas around Apatzingan, the scene of some of the worst violence, but the town was largely quiet by the evening, witnesses said. Michoacans governor called for calm as police towed charred vehicles away from roads. The advance of federal forces has sent the criminals into retreat, Poire said.