Justice in Mexico

The Arrest of “El Chango” Could Mean the End of La Familia

06/22/11 – The alleged leader of La Familia Michoacána cartel, José de Jesús Méndez Vargas, better known by the alias “El Chango (The Monkey) Méndez,” was captured this week in the state of Aguacalientes.  The arrest of Méndez, who is one of the most wanted men in Mexico, has “destroyed what was left of the leadership of La Familia,” according to Mexican National Security spokesman Alejandro Poiré.  The Mexican government had issued a reward of $2.5 million for his capture.  Since the death of the cartel’s founder, Nazario Moreno González, in December, Méndez has tried to sustain the cartel to keep it from falling.

However, the potential end of La Familia may not necessarily bring peace to the state of Michocán, the cartel’s home state.  Sources suggest that more violence may occur as various cartel groups compete for drug routes formerly controlled by La Familia.  Among these groups include the Knights Templar, which was created by former La Familia leaders who broke ties from the cartel earlier this year.  The Christian Science Monitor speculated that some remaining members of La Familia will join forces with allies that the cartel has made, including the infamous Sinaloa Cartel.  According to scholar George Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, “El Chango’s arrest can also mean that rival groups like Los Zetas are ‘rejoicing’ at the possibility of making greater inroads into the state, which usually means more fighting as various groups vie for control.”


Peralta, Eyder.  “Mexico Captures Alleged Leader Of La Familia Cartel.” NPR.  June 21, 2011.

Castillo, E. Eduard.  “Officials: Brutal Mexican drug gang weakened.”  Associated Press.  June 22, 2011.

Llana, Sarah Miller.  “La Familia drug cartel defeated, says Mexico.” Christian Science Monitor.  June 22, 2011.

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