La Familia Drug Cartel: Implications for U.s.-mexican Security
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jun 22, 2012 - 124 pages
La Familia Michoacana or as it is also known, La Familia, has emerged as one of Mexico's strangest and most grotesque drug cartels. Its leaders-Nazario "El Chayo" Moreno González and José de Jesús "El Chango" Méndez Vargas-insist they are doing the Lord's work when they discipline teenagers for wearing long hair or spraying graffiti on colonial buildings in the Michoacán state capital of Morelia. However, this syndicate is not content with trying to civilize young people. It captures enemies, who may belong to Los Zetas or another competing cartel, and tortures, dismembers, and decapitates them-often leaving heads in public venues as a warning. Despite their pious opposition to drug consumption by michoacanos, "El Chayo" and "El Chango" have amassed a fortune by importing precursor drugs from Asia and Europe through the Michoacán Pacific Coast port of Lázaro Cárdenas. They have constructed scores of sophisticated laboratories to convert these chemicals into methamphetamines for sale in an expanding U.S. market. La Familia also acquires resources by selling protection to merchants, street vendors, loggers, hotel owners, local gangs, and small-scale drug sellers. Rather than speak in terms of extortion, the shadowy organization insists that it "protects" its clients. La Familia has recruited members from the ranks of the dispossessed. The North American Free Trade Agreement and the 2008-10 economic recession have left thousands of young people, mostly males, wandering the streets of Lázaro Cárdenas, Morelia, and many of the state's other 111 municipalities. Uprooted from their families, unemployed, poorly educated, and homeless, many of these individuals had turned to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and petty crime to cope with their dreary lives. Along come La Familia's recruiters with a message of hope. They say, in effect: "Enter a rehabilitation center, clean up your life, and we will provide meaningful opportunities." Only after a person has shed their addiction are they invited to enter a 2-month program based on periods of silence, intensive Bible study, and exposure to Evangelical-style speakers. If they complete this training-which is unabashed brainwashing-they receive a job, a salary, and integration into a social group. Meanwhile, they contribute to La Familia's ability to move drugs, especially methamphetamines, through Baja California and Sonora onto the streets of the United States. La Familia's strength has grown because it has aligned with the Gulf and Sinaloa Cartels against Los Zetas in Tamaulipas and other areas south of the border with Texas. If the three groups enjoy success, they will gain access to Nuevo Laredo, which is the largest portal for the bilateral flow of people, money, vehicles, arms, contraband, and drugs. Dr. George W. Grayson provides an extremely astute analysis of La Familia, emphasizing its origins, evolution, ideology, leaders, and goals.
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La Familia Drug Cartel: Implications for U.S.-Mexican Security
George W. Grayson
Limited preview - 2010