MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Mexican police captured the suspected leader of a cult-like drug cartel yesterday in the latest blow to a gang that was until recently one of the most notorious in the country.
Federal police arrested La Familia (The Family) boss Jose de Jesus Mendez, known by his nickname “El Chango,” or “The Monkey”, at a highway checkpoint in central Mexico, and no shots were fired, the government and prosecutors said.
In a rare bloodless capture in Mexico’s escalating war on drug cartels, President Felipe Calderon’s national security spokesman said Mendez’ arrest was a major victory and the end of La Familia, which was infamous for beheading its enemies.
“With this capture, this criminal group is destroyed,” Alejandro Poire told reporters, adding that Mendez was being flown to Mexico City for questioning.
Mendez’ detention follows the death last December of La Familia’s top boss, Nazario Moreno, known as “The Craziest One,” in a dramatic series of army raids that turned the western state of Michoacan, La Familia’s heartland, briefly into a war zone littered with burning cars.
Despite the government’s optimism, La Familia hitmen are still at large and have split into factions since Moreno’s death.