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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

(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.

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"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. (Read more Mexico drug cartels stories.)

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