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La Familia

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.
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.
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.
November 30, 2010 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Mexican authorities Tuesday said they had arrested a regional boss of La Familia drug gang, which dominates the western state of Michoacan with violence and a cult-like authority. The trafficking group recently hung banners suggesting a truce with Mexican government forces, but authorities dismissed the move as a ploy and said they wouldn't negotiate anyway. Federal police said the man arrested Monday, Jose Alfredo Landa Torres, was recently named to head La Familia's operations in the state capital, Morelia.
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.
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.
March 26, 2010 | By Ken Ellingwood
Mexican authorities Thursday announced the arrest of a man dubbed "the king of heroin," who allegedly was one of the biggest smugglers of the drug into the United States. Jose Antonio Medina was captured by Mexican police a day earlier in the western state of Michoacan, where he allegedly operated a trafficking network that smuggled 440 pounds of heroin a month across the border into Southern California, federal police said. Medina, 36, was sought on a warrant issued last year for extradition to the U.S. on charges of drug trafficking and sales north of the border.
February 3, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson
'We have your daughter." Those chilling words, the worst nightmare of any parent, came over the telephone, spoken by a man planning to demand money for her safe return. One catch: We have no daughter. So the call, for us, was easy enough to ignore. But thousands of Mexicans receive these calls every week. Sometimes they are real; a child or spouse or other relative has been kidnapped, and a ransom is demanded. Often, they're bogus. A cottage industry has exploded alongside the skyrocketing kidnapping rate in Mexico that could be called "extortion on spec": telephoned shakedowns that play on fears, in which the perpetrators scamming for pesos make random calls.
October 23, 2009 | Josh Meyer
Drug agents swept through Los Angeles and dozens of other locations Wednesday and Thursday, arresting more than 300 people and seizing large quantities of drugs, weapons and money in the biggest U.S. crackdown against a Mexican drug cartel. The months-long offensive, the fruit of dozens of federal investigations over the last 3 1/2 years, will put a significant dent in the U.S. operations of La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico's fastest-growing and deadliest cartels, authorities said.
October 17, 2009 | Ken Ellingwood
Mutilated bodies of nine people turned up in the southern state of Guerrero, authorities said Friday, amid a spike in drug-related violence there. The victims had been beheaded, hacked to pieces and left in 18 black plastic bags in the bed of a pickup in the town of Tlapehuala, Guerrero's public safety department said. Officials said they had not identified the victims, whose remains were found late Thursday in a rural zone, nicknamed Tierra Caliente, or "hot land," that is known for drug-trafficking activity.
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