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'La Familia cartel boss' Mendez Vargas held in Mexico

  1. jon-q
    Mexican President Felipe Calderon has congratulated police on the capture of the alleged leader of the notorious La Familia drugs cartel.

    Police arrested Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, also known as "The Monkey", in the central city of Aguascalientes.

    Mr Calderon described the capture as a great blow to organised crime.

    La Familia has a reputation for gruesome violence but claims to protect local communities and promote family values.

    Mexico's security spokesman Alejandro Poire said the

    The Mexican attorney general's office said Mr Mendez Vargas was "responsible for the transfer and sale of cocaine, marijuana, crystal methamphetamine in various states of Mexico and the US".

    He is also accused of having masterminded the kidnappings and killings of rival gang members.

    The government had offered a $2.5m reward for information leading to his capture.

    A previous leader of La Familia, Nazario Moreno, was killed by security forces in December 2010.

    His arrest led to a violent split in the gang. Mr Mendez Vargas is believed to remained head of the faction continuing under the name of La Familia.

    The other faction, called the Knights Templar, is believed to be led by Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez.

    These gangs are active in parts of south-west and central Mexico, in particular Michoacan, the state of Mexico and Guanajuato, according to Samuel Gonzalez Ruiz, the former head of Mexico's organised crime unit.

    For Mr Gonzalez Ruiz, Mr Mendez Vargas's arrest will not have a big effect on the ground.

    "The impact will be totally limited because the illicit (drugs) market is there, the extortion is there, the kidnappings are there," he told the BBC.

    In 2009, when La Familia was still run by Nazario Moreno, an assessment by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said La Familia had a "Robin Hood-type mentality".

    "They believe they are doing God's work, and pass out bibles and money to the poor. La Familia Michoacana also gives money to schools and local officials," the DEA said.

    La Familia came to prominence in 2006 when suspected members threw five severed heads into a disco. A letter accompanying the heads declared: "Only those who deserve to die will die."

    In December that year, President Calderon, who is from Michoacan, deployed troops to the state to take on the gang, later extending his drug fight to other parts of Mexico.

    Since then at least 34,000 people have died, according to official figures.

    The authorities have not updated these statistics since January.

    Several top drug bosses have been arrested during the past four and a half years.

    BBC News 22nd June 2011



  1. missparkles
    From what I've seen on TV, read in newspapers, and found on the internet. I was going through a spell of not being able to find out enough about the origins of the various gangs, they're evolution, and how powerful and dangerous they are. And from what I've researched (if you can call it that) this particular gang would think nothing of blowing up the prison where their leader is being held. They almost run the border towns (with the US) in Mexico.

    Two young girls (about 18-20) crossed the border to go to a music festival. They were "allegedly" stopped by the police (who were in the pay of the gangs) on some trumped up excuse, then handcuffed and delivered to the home of some high ranking gang member for "his pleasure."

    The US police have been given the runaround, the US consulate in Mexico can't get any info on these girls at all, and it seems like they've just vanished into thin air. No one (Mexican people) will talk for two reasons..firstly, they fear retribution if they talk, and two...the gangs employ them, keep them fed. They're caught between a rock and a hard place.

    The parents of these two girls trawl the streets of this particular town in the hope of spotting their daughters. But as one father said "my daughter is quite possibly dead by now, but until I know that, I have hope, and that's what keeps me going."

    But the point I'm trying to make I suppose, is that this gang leader will get out. It will either be from the inside as lot of prison guards (as well as the police) augment their poor salaries by accepting money from the gangs. I'm not saying all of them, but apparently if the story above is to be believed, enough of them?

    So, I think it's a little early for celebrations...don't you?

  2. Balzafire
    [imgr=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20898&stc=1&d=1308806639[/imgr]His nickname turned out to be richly deserved. When armed police presented Jose de Jesus Mendez at a press conference in Mexico City yesterday, the drug kingpin was revealed to be in possession of both a fat neck and a simian scowl. That's presumably why he was known as "El Chango", or "The Monkey".

    Mendez was the leader of La Familia Michoacana, among half a dozen large criminal organisations which have fought for years over one of Mexico's most lucrative industries, the $38bn-a-year (£23.6bn) business of shifting cocaine from South America to US consumers.

    The circumstances of his arrest were rare, given the bloody nature of the Mexican Government's ongoing "war on drugs", which has resulted in almost 40,000 deaths in the past four years. Federal police who swooped on "El Chango's" hideout in the central state of Aguascalientes arrested him without a shot fired.

    Mendez is the second head of La Familia to be brought to book. In December, the organisation's founder, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, known as "El Mas Loco" ("The Craziest") was killed by security forces during a two-day battle which filled the once-sleepy city called Apatzigan with tanks and burning cars.

    "With this capture, what was left of the command structure of this criminal organisation is destroyed," trumpeted a government spokesman, describing Mendez as, "the last remaining head of a criminal group responsible for homicides, kidnappings, extortion, corruption and even cowardly attacks on the authorities and civilian population".

    Felipe Calderon, the Mexican President who has devoted much of his time in office to cracking down on the drug trade, used his Twitter account to describe the detention of a man who had a $2.5m price tag on his head a "big blow" against organised crime.

    Mendez is now likely to be charged with shipping tonnes of cocaine to the US, along with large volumes of methamphetamine and marijuana. With the help of weapons purchased in America (which has the developed world's most relaxed gun laws), his private army was also able to commit murder, kidnapping, extortion.

    His arrest, like that of any major cartel chief, is unlikely to stem the flow of drugs through Mexico: the stratospheric profit margins on offer to traffickers (reported to be about 3,000 percent) mean there is never a shortage of candidates willing to do battle over newly vacant turf.

    But it may represent the beginning of the end for La Familia, a unique sort of drug cartel which was as famous for its cult-like mentality and loosely Christian theology as it was for the occasional acts of extreme violence that it used to maintain a grip on its territory along Mexico's strategically important western coast.

    Founded during the 1980s, as part of the larger Gulf Cartel, the group split into an independent organisation six years ago. Its existence became public in 2006, when members lobbed five decapitated heads onto the dance floor of the Sol y Sombra night club in the city of Uruapan.

    They were accompanied by a message scrawled on a scrap of paper, which read: "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."

    As that mission statement suggests, La Familia styles itself as a sort of parallel government, financing social programmes in and around Michoacan, an impoverished and therefore eminently bribable state whose sea ports make it an important staging point for narcotics en-route to the US.

    La Familia has for years collected "taxes" from local business owners, and spent a portion of its income on propaganda, taking out newspaper adverts saying it wants to "protect" the region from more ruthless rival gangs from other regions. It buys at least some popularity by offering low-interest loans to farmers, churches, and small businesses. "They believe they are doing God's work, and pass out Bibles and money to the poor," reads a US Drug Enforcement Administration profile explaining the cartel's endorsement of family values. "La Familia Michoacana also gives money to school and local officials."

    Despite the nature of its core business, it also claims to be protecting locals from the scourge of drugs. La Familia has a "zero tolerance" policy on the sale of narcotics in Michoacan, and runs rehabilitation programmes for local drug addicts. Many residents trust the cartel more than their notoriously corrupt police force.

    Members of the organisation are expected to buy into the cult-like command structure. Before his death in December, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, published a "bible" explaining a doctrine which includes foregoing hard drugs and attending regular prayer meetings.

    His supporters were also encouraged to show up at Catholic Mass (and leave generous donations in the collection plate). Unlike other cartels, La Familia does not tolerate the abuse of women and children by its foot-soldiers.

    But you don't run a lucrative criminal organisation without occasionally knocking a few heads together, and La Familia has, like every major cartel, acquired a reputation for ruthlessness. In Acapulco last year, I was taken to a church plaza where members had recently left the decapitated head of a victim. The man's skin had been entirely removed, and was lying in a heap nearby, next to his torso. The level of killing had dramatically accelerated in the months following Gonzalez's death, with La Familia splintering into two groups.

    One was loyal to Mendez, another faction to a longstanding Familia member called Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez, who called his men The Knights Templar, after the warriors of the Crusades. They claimed responsibility for 22 murders over last weekend.

    Analysts are now wondering if Martinez or one of his colleagues tipped off the authorities regarding "El Chango's" whereabouts. He is unlikely to now have the firepower to return his organisation to its former glories, but Martinez is expected to negotiate the absorption of La Familia into one of Mexico's remaining major drug gangs.

    Rogues gallery: The drug lords and their nicknames

    'The Monkey'

    Jose de jesus 'El Chango' Mendez

    Keeping in line with their counterparts in New York, where Mafia dons boast nicknames such as "Baby Shacks" and "Junior Lollipops", many of Mexico's drug lords have eccentric monikers. They don't, however, always fully represent the ruthless nature of the title-holder. Jose de Jesus Mendez, who was arrested on Tuesday, is known as "El Chango", or "The Monkey", which portrays a rather endearing creature. Yet this monkey is one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords and an alleged leader of the La Familia cartel, which has been directly or indirectly involved in the drug wars that have killed at least 35,000 people since 2009. Here are some other unusual nicknames acquired by Mexico's most notorious criminals.

    'El Brad Pitt'

    Marco Antonio Guzman

    The 34-year-old former police officer was arrested last week in Mexico accused of leading the armed wing of the violent Juarez cartel. He is said to have acquired his celebrity moniker because of a disguise he wore when he served as a lookout. The nickname stuck when gang associates said Guzman resembled the Hollywood star in a scene from the film Spy Game about CIA agents, in which the actor wore a similar outfit.

    'El Clinton'

    Abel Valadez Oribe

    The head of operations for La Familia in western Mexico was given the nickname of the former US president because of his elevated status in the cartel. The 33-year-old was arrested in 2009 and is allegedly behind the assassination of a mayor at a popular holiday resort.

    'The Professor'

    Servando Gomez Martinez

    As recently as December last year, La Familia's "El Profe" also known as "La Tuta" was still on the state's payroll for his teaching job. He is known as a fervent promoter of the cartel's vigilante ideology.

    'La Barbie'

    Edgar Valdez Villarreal

    The 37–year-old was born in Texas and had an outstanding American football career in high school, but "Barbie" developed a taste for luxury cars, nightclubs and Versace clothes as a small-time marijuana dealer. He soon moved to Mexico and assumed a role as a key player in the Beltran-Leyva cartel, where he got his improbable nickname because his blue eyes and fair complexion were said to make him resemble a Ken doll. He was arrested in Mexico last year and is awaiting extradition to the US.

    By Guy Adams
    23 June 2011
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