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December 11, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
Mexican authorities said Friday that they believe a top leader of the violent La Familia cartel was killed during two days of pitched fighting in the home state of President Felipe Calderon. In violence that erupted Wednesday afternoon and raged until early Friday, federal forces deployed in the western state of Michoacan battled scores of gunmen from La Familia who set vehicles on fire and barricaded roads in a dozen cities. At least 11 people were confirmed killed, including five federal police officers and an 8-month-old.
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WORLD
December 2, 2013 | By Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - It is a distressingly common part of life in modern Mexico: the bullying phone call demanding that the person who answers pay up - or else. Businesses get the extortion calls. Families get them. And now, apparently, so has the country's main Roman Catholic seminary. In a sermon Sunday, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera announced that a vice rector at the Conciliar Seminary of Mexico received a number of threatening phone calls Nov. 20-21. The callers, the cardinal said, demanded 60,000 pesos - about $4,500 - "in exchange for respecting the lives of the superiors of that institution," according to a statement issued Sunday evening by the Archdiocese of Mexico.
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ENTERTAINMENT
February 5, 1993 | MIKE BOEHM, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Music has been very much a family affair for Little Joe Hernandez. He was a shy kid in Temple, Tex., when his cousin coaxed him to join his first band at 15. When Hernandez began to record a few years later, he scored his first success with "Corrido del West," a sweet Spanish song written by his father. He credits a younger brother, Jesse, with having prodded him first to pursue music full-time, and then to push for broader renown.
WORLD
November 17, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson
APATZINGAN, Mexico - In this city in western Mexico, sympathy runs strong for the Knights Templar, a cult-like drug cartel that has used extortion and intimidation to control much of the local economy and undermine government. A few miles up the road, however, amid the lime groves and avocado fields of Michoacan state, residents have taken up weapons to run the Knights Templar out of their towns. They call themselves "self-defense" squads, their territory "liberated. " For the moment, the two well-armed camps are being kept apart by a stepped-up but tenuous federal military deployment.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 3, 2012 | By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
In Mexico, the media called her la bonita ("the pretty one") or la chula ( "the beautiful one") or la reina del crimen ("the queen of Mexican crime"). Mexican authorities have long alleged that Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, was a top operative in the La Familia drug cartel working out of the United States. They said that she helped smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States, once using a gardening company to move drugs brought by sea into Long Beach. But when authorities arrested Noriega Rios at a modest El Monte apartment last week on immigration charges, there were no indications the woman had a 5-million peso reward on her head.
WORLD
June 30, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
Mexican authorities Wednesday announced the arrest of a key suspect in the attempted assassination of a state security chief whose convoy was attacked with grenades and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The suspect until recently was a police commander who also worked for the notorious drug cartel known as La Familia, authorities said. Minerva Bautista Gomez, security chief for the state of Michoacan, survived the April 24 ambush. Two of her bodyguards and two passing motorists were killed.
WORLD
June 23, 2011 | By Tracy Wilkinson
Shackled in chains, he grimaced in apparent pain as he heaved his hefty body from the back of a police van. Jose de Jesus "El Chango" Mendez was paraded before reporters Wednesday, a day after the reputed drug lord was captured by federal police. Authorities identify Mendez as the reigning leader of the notorious La Familia cartel, and his capture — with nary a shot fired, officials say — is a coup for the besieged government of President Felipe Calderon, whose drug war has claimed nearly 40,000 lives in 4 1/2 years.
WORLD
June 27, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
As dozens of gunmen fired more than 2,700 deafening rounds of ammunition, Minerva Bautista crouched on the floor of her heavily armored SUV, screaming into her radio for backup and thinking one thing: "I know help will come." But when the minister of security for Michoacan state heard the rounds begin to penetrate her car's armor, sending pieces of metal into her back "like fiery sparks," her faith faltered. And when one of her badly injured bodyguards asked her to take care of his family, she lost hope.
WORLD
June 22, 2011 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
A top leader of the notorious La Familia drug-trafficking gang, locked in an especially deadly internal fight in recent months, has been captured by Mexican federal police, authorities announced Tuesday. Jose de Jesus Mendez, alias "El Chango," one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords, was taken into custody in the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes, apparently without a struggle, authorities said. Mendez led a faction of La Familia, the ruthless and sometimes cult-like network that authorities say specializes in producing and shipping methamphetamine to the United States.
WORLD
July 9, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Federal police in western Mexico were locked in armed clashes Friday with a faction of the drug gang known as La Familia, two weeks after they said they had all but vanquished the group. Authorities said seven gunmen were killed in the violence, which began late Thursday after drug henchmen set cars ablaze to block roads across the state of Michoacan. The so-called narco-blockades, often meant to hinder police, appeared designed to signal to authorities that a wing of La Familia was still very much a force.
WORLD
November 6, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson
MEXICO CITY -- In a rare public airing, a senior Catholic prelate has denounced control of Mexico's Michoacan state by violent drug traffickers, challenging official government claims and igniting a fierce debate. Miguel Patiño, the bishop of Apatzingan, one of Michoacan's largest cities and a headquarters for the state's main criminal network, made his charges in an open letter and then in a series of interviews. He said Michoacan had essentially become a failed state because authorities are afraid of -- or in collusion with -- organized crime figures.
WORLD
October 28, 2013 | By Cecilia Sanchez, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
MEXICO CITY -- At least five people were killed in a spasm of violence that shook one of Mexico's largest states over the weekend, authorities said Monday. Gunmen on Sunday blew up 18 electrical substations -- twice the originally reported number -- and torched six gasoline stations in Michoacan state, just west of the nation's capital. Nearly half a million people were left without electrical power for 15 hours. During that time at least five people were killed during a gun battle at the city hall in Apatzingan, one of the state's principal cities, the state prosecutor's office reported Monday.
WORLD
June 11, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
COALCOMAN, Mexico - Rafael Garcia slaps the oversize wooden desk where he sits, one of the last mayors still in office in this region of Mexican farm country known as Tierra Caliente - hot land. Mayors from a couple of the nearest towns fled with their drug-cartel pals, people here say, when locals took up arms against them. But at Garcia's City Hall, the facade is festooned with hand-lettered signs supporting local gunmen who challenged the cartel, loosely referred to as community "self-defense" guards, comunitarios . Several cities in Tierra Caliente are now patrolled by such groups, whose members, often masked, man checkpoints and pull over passing vehicles for inspection.
WORLD
May 21, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson
MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican government poured army troops -- and high-level delegations -- into western Mexico on Tuesday in a bid to take back control of a region long besieged by a deadly drug cartel. The operation in the Pacific state of Michoacan is the first major military deployment targeting drug traffickers to be ordered by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which is still struggling to publicly define its security strategy six months after assuming leadership of this violent country.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 3, 2012 | By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
In Mexico, the media called her la bonita ("the pretty one") or la chula ( "the beautiful one") or la reina del crimen ("the queen of Mexican crime"). Mexican authorities have long alleged that Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, was a top operative in the La Familia drug cartel working out of the United States. They said that she helped smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States, once using a gardening company to move drugs brought by sea into Long Beach. But when authorities arrested Noriega Rios at a modest El Monte apartment last week on immigration charges, there were no indications the woman had a 5-million peso reward on her head.
WORLD
November 11, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose conservative party is lagging in national popularity amid soaring drug violence, may have a source of hope close to home: his sister. Luisa Maria Calderon, a 55-year-old former senator and the president's older sister, leads polls for governor of Michoacan state, where a victory Sunday could give their National Action Party, or PAN, a needed boost before next year's national elections. The western state, long a corridor for illegal drugs, has been hit hard by rising violence, stoking worry of election day bloodshed or turnout damped by voter fear.
WORLD
July 13, 2009 | Washington Post
Authorities were interrogating a suspected ringleader of the drug cartel La Familia on Sunday after the crime syndicate launched a series of coordinated commando attacks against federal police and Mexican soldiers over the weekend that left five dead and a dozen wounded. The ambushes Saturday in eight cities across the western state of Michoacan were carried out with disciplined force by small units of La Familia cartel gunmen with military-grade assault rifles and grenades.
WORLD
August 20, 2009 | Tracy Wilkinson
When registration opens today for Mexico's newly elected Congress, there is one up-and-coming legislator who officials will be relieved to count as a no-show. Julio Cesar Godoy, in addition to being a lawmaker-elect from the state of Michoacan, is also a fugitive from the law. Godoy, brother of the state governor, is one of dozens of politicians and police chiefs from Michoacan accused of aiding the notorious La Familia drug cartel. He dropped out of sight as arrest warrants came down in May and June, yet won election anyway.
WORLD
September 20, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Mexican authorities Tuesday announced the capture of a top leader of the Knights Templar drug gang suspected in a 2007 attack that killed five soldiers. The army and federal attorney general's office said in a statement that Saul Solis Solis was arrested a day earlier in the western state of Michoacan. A former municipal public safety director, Solis was described as a key figure in the Knights Templar, an offshoot of La Familia, a gang that violently split apart this year.
WORLD
July 9, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Federal police in western Mexico were locked in armed clashes Friday with a faction of the drug gang known as La Familia, two weeks after they said they had all but vanquished the group. Authorities said seven gunmen were killed in the violence, which began late Thursday after drug henchmen set cars ablaze to block roads across the state of Michoacan. The so-called narco-blockades, often meant to hinder police, appeared designed to signal to authorities that a wing of La Familia was still very much a force.
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