Mexico Captures Top Cartel Leader—'the Monkey'
Alleged head of La Familia group is arrested
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2011 7:16 PM CDT
This undated image shows the alleged leader of the La Familia cartel, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, alias "The Monkey."   (AP Photo/PGR)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Mexico says it struck a "large blow" against drug cartels today by capturing the leader of the notorious La Familia gang. Authorities arrested Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargaz (aka El Chango, or the Monkey) at a highway checkpoint without incident. La Familia announced its emergence as a main player in 2006 when members threw the severed heads of five rival gang members on a nightclub dance floor, notes CNN.

"With this arrest, what remained of the structure of this criminal organization has been destroyed," said one Mexican official. The AP describes La Familia as a "cult-like, pseudo-Christian" group. It also notes that a former leader recently started a violent splinter group called the Knights Templar, and he remains at large. La Familia specializes in synthetic drugs such as meth and is centered in Michoacan state, adds AFP.