Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

La Familia drug cartel defeated, says Mexico

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on June 22, 2011

by Sara Miller Llana for The Christian Science Monitor, June 22nd, 2011.

La Familia leader, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, has been arrested and Mexican authorities contend that the group’s reign in the state of Michoacán has come to an end.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón can declare a decisive victory in his country’s brutal war on drugs.

Federal authorities have arrested the leader of La Familia, the drug trafficking organization that espouses religious ideals, but gained worldwide notoriety when it tossed five human heads onto a dance floor in Michoacán state four years ago. Since then, La Familia has made money and wielded influence through not just drug running but kidnapping, extortion, intimidation, and murder.

Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, also known as El Chango, or “The Monkey,” was arrested in the state of Aguascalientes, the government announced Tuesday.

IN PICTURES: Mexico’s drug war

“With this arrest, what remained of the structure of this criminal organization has been destroyed,” security spokesman Alejandro Poire said at a news conference.

His arrest follows the death of the group’s founder,Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, in December.

George Grayson, a professor at William & Mary and author of “Mexico: Narco- Violence and a Failed State,” says that the arrest effectively decapitates the organization. But with alliances that La Familia made with other groups, including the Sinaloa cartel, against the Zetas group, many secondary leaders could simply get absorbed into the Sinaloa group. “The Sinaloa cartel will spread into Michoacan,” he says.

It remains to be seen what the arrest means for Michoacán. (continue reading… )



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