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One capo falls, others move in

When vacuums occur in Mexico’s drug war, someone always moves in.

Yesterday’s capture of La Familia Michoacana’s alleged top honcho, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, AKA “El Chango” or The Monkey, may be a case in point. When top capos fall in Mexico, especially without a shot being fired, one can’t help but wonder what happened. 

Mexico Drug War_Nost Mendez Vargas, left, was seized in Cosio, Aguascalientes, a bit of a distance from his stronghold in Michoacan state. Feds gave new details about his arrest early this morning when displaying him on the equivalent of a “perp walk.”

They said Mendez Vargas thought he would be safe in Aguascalientes because he had wide protection from local police. They added that his capture was the result of an operation that began May 27 and culminated in a “surgical” raid without any firefight.

Given the split in La Familia following the apparent death of fellow La Familia leader Nazario Moreno last December, I wonder if the rival faction, known by the rather baroque name of the Knights Templar, helped rat Mendez Vargas out.

As Stratfor has noted in its weekly Mexico Security Memo, the Knights Templar have underscored their disgust with El Chango repeatedly in recent days.

On June 17, they hung banners around Michoacan state “professing their commitment to serving the community and calling La Familia Michoacana and Los Zetas traitors to Mexico,” Stratfor says. A day later, eight bodies turned up in the port of Lazaro Cardenas. A message left at the scene said all those associated with El Chango would meet a similar fate.

Then this banner appeared in Michoacan in which the Knights Templar flat out accuse El Chango of having allied with Los Zetas, and declaring this treason.

Such an accusation holds a certain logic. El Chango is believed to be a former lieutenant in the Gulf Cartel and would know leaders of Los Zetas, which split off from the Gulf Cartel. After Nazario Moreno met his death, El Chango may have felt weakened and needed a lifeline from a fellow crime group.

In any case, federal police backed off a bit this morning from National Security spokesman Alejandro Poire’s statement yesterday that La Familia’s leadership has been wiped out. Federal Police commissioner Facundo Rosas said six top crime bosses from what was once La Familia remain free and “operate across the country.” They include Servando Gómez Martínez (“La Tuta”) and Dionicio Loya Plancarte (“La Chiva”), both leaders of the Knights Templar.

So La Familia may be history, but the Knights Templar are filling the vacuum.


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sean hanny

right on, John, and thanks for that link to Petras (although I do not think AMLO would have been any better, just way more scattered and half baked....he never had a chance anyway, the US and Mex corp elite would have surely taken him out, plus he has himself to blame for even making the preseidential race close...he slacked off the last months and began unecessarily smearing, blew his monstrous advantage and then after he lost he did nothing to heal the country...the guy could have easily won in 2012 if he had behaved decently without that silly mass protest that paralysed el centro of DF for 2 motnhs)...cheers

John Randolph

Here is a very interesting take by James Petras on the big picture of the underlying US motives in the war on drugs: http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1855

What that said, is Washington pushing Calderon in an attempt to wipe out cartel competition? Why have they not caught Chapo Guzman?

The US military industrial complex profits from our tax dollars (Merida funding) to supply Calderon's military the needed tools of the trade, and US gun manufactures profit from weapons being sold and smuggled to the cartels? And who suffers?

40,000 dead in Mexico from our failed drug war with no end in sight?

This could back fire on the elite who are making money off of our tax dollars.

US backed Cartel violence in Mexico is opening the door to mass asylum from Mexico.

And you know what, I not only hope that this happens, I promote it as a protest tool against Washington's failed drug and immigration policies.

We are all being raped in this, yet many American voters are so propagandized that they blame illegal aliens!


sean hanny

it is all so complicated...I don't think I have the bandwidth nor the desire to follow all the puerile, bellicose happenings of these rependejos..."Kinghts Templar", huh?...like they know jack about such things, like they read Rosicrucian stuff, like they know about the Crusades...as if they were Illuminati...I think they will eventually be integrated into the Feederation...I believe that's what they call the umbrella group of government protected narcos...it is, of course, led by El Chapo, who is most likely the most powerful man in the country

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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