Monday, August 1, 2011

Feds Arrested Nearly 2,000 Members Of La Familia Michoacana Cartel In The U.S.

José de Jesus Mendez Vargas, "El Chango"

20-month federal investigation between the U.S. and Mexico led to arrests targeting La Familia Michoacana members living in the country.

By H. Nelson Goodson
August 1, 2011

Washington, D.C. – On July 21, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported the results of Project Delirium, a 20-month series of investigations nationwide targeting the La Familia Michoacana cartel. DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in a press release stated, it was the largest strike against La Familia in the United States with a total of 1,985 arrests, $62 million in U.S. currency, and approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets. Over 70 of these arrests took place between July 20 and 21, and over 200 suspects were arrested since June 1.
The federal indictments were unsealed in Northern District of Alabama; the Central, Eastern and Southern Districts of California; the District of Colorado; the District of Columbia; the Northern District of Georgia; the District of Kansas; the Eastern District of Michigan; the District of Minnesota; the Eastern District of Missouri; the District of New Mexico; the Eastern and Western Districts of North Carolina; the Western District of Tennessee; and the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas.
On June 21, 2011, Mexican Federal Police arrested the leader of La Familia Michoacana, José de Jesus Mendez Vargas, 50, aka “El Chango Mendez” or “The Monkey,” "El Pastor" or "Médico" for drug trafficking, extortion, murder and kidnappings charges. Vargas, originally from Ahuaje, Michoacan was captured without incident in the municipality of Cosío in the state of Aguascalientes.
The 1,985 suspects were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States, money laundering and other federal law violations. Numerous defendants face forfeiture allegations as well, according to Leonhart.
Federal agencies involved in the operation were DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Delirium through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, the ICE press released reported.

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