La Familia Drug Boss Captured in Mexico

By Dirk Hanson 06/24/11

An “even more violent” gang stands to profit from the arrest.

Gang kingpin specialized in meth for the U.S. market.
Photo via perupuntocom

Another “big fish” has been netted in the never-ending war south of the border. Mexican federales announced the capture of infamous La Familia member Jose de Jesus Mendez, a.k.a. “El Chango,” in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes. The Mendez faction of La Familia was said to be particularly cult-like in operation, and concentrated specifically on the manufacture and shipment of methamphetamine to the United States. The list of crimes attributed to Jose “The Monkey” Mendez would run longer than this post, but the highlights include murder, extortion, kidnapping, grenade attacks on civilians… you get the idea. It is basically the same package that is applied to whatever kingpin the Mexican federal police manage to haul in. The government had offered a $2 million reward for Mendez’s capture, and no telling where that money will end up. Still, the arrest is one more problem for the heavily splintered La Familia, which was hit hard by the death of founder and official top dog, Nazario “El Mas Loco” Gonzalez. Subsequent fighting between factions has resulted in 40,000 deaths in the country, and the displacement of countless Mexican civilians.

“With this capture,” said the government’s spokesman for security affairs, “what was left of the command structure of this criminal organization is destroyed.” We hate to sound jaded, but wouldn’t it be lovely to think so. What is likely to happen, says the Los Angeles Times, is that the Mendez capture “could clear the way for the even more violent Zetas to make further headway in La Familia’s territories of Michoacan and Guerrero, both Pacific states with long coastlines.” Did you get that? An “even more violent” gang stands to profit from the arrest. This is how the game is played. The capture of a big player forces a shuffling of the pieces—but the deadly chess match goes on.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]