Jim Kouri
Mexican cops storm drug cartel hideout killing 11
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By Jim Kouri
May 30, 2011

Mexican police officers reported Saturday that they've killed at least 11 La Familia drug cartel members after an intense shoot-out at the crime gang's western Mexico ranch, a U.S. DEA agent told the Law Enforcement Examiner

Two officers were reported to have sustained wounds during the police raid that succeeded in capturing 36 gang members, including three of the top cartel leaders.

The DEA source said the arrests should help in weakening La Familia, which has a reputation for brutality and extreme violence on both sides of the U.S._Mexico border, but is defended by Mexico's local communities as a generous group that promotes Christian values.

Besides drug trafficking and human smuggling, La Familia is known for extortion and kidnapping, and much like the Colombian FARC, attempts to portray itself as a populist left-wing group that defends members of Michoacan society from the brutality of government forces or rival cartels.

La Familia primarily smuggles large shipments of cocaine into the United States along Mexico's Pacific coast. The gang produces and traffics the synthetic drug methamphetamine, a stimulent that is longer lasting and more deadly than cocaine.

La Familia shocked Americans and other nations in 2006, when its members allegedly tossed five decapitated heads into a Mexican nightclub with a sign that read: "Only those who deserve to die will die."

Mexican federal police officials said that the La Familia drug cartel is responsible for shooting-down a police helicopter on Tuesday. The helicopter is reportedly one of those given to Mexico by the United States as part of the Merida Initiative.

The Merida Initiative, a program begun during the Bush Administration in 2007, provides about $1.6 billion in law enforcement support to Mexico and Central American countries. The U.S. Department of State manages the Initiative while other U.S. agencies play key roles in its implementation.

Police officials told the news media that they had planned the raid following an informant's tip regarding a "sitdown" between alleged gang members at a ranch in Jalisco state, near the cartel's stronghold of Michoacan.

Federal police commissioner Facundo Rosas, during a press conference after the raid, said that among those arrested were three top members of the cartel.

"They were hiding in Jalisco, waiting for instructions from their boss and planning an attack on a group which calls itself the Knights Templar, with which they're at war," Mr Rosas told reporters at the news conference.

The police commissioner described the Knights Templar as former members of La Familia, who had split from the cartel after the killing of La Familia leader Nazario Moreno by Mexican federal police last December.

Besides the 11 dead and 36 captured cartel members, police officer reported they had seized 70 long-range weapons and 14 pistols, many of them handcrafted with gold, silver, diamonds and rubies. They also secured more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition and enough body armor to oufit 40 members.

In 2009, 303 individuals in the United States were arrested as part of Project Coronado, which targeted the distribution network of La Familia, through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement.

More than 3,000 law enforcement agents and police officers operated throughout the U.S. to make the arrests during the takedown. During the two-day operation alone, $3.4 million in U.S. currency, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 62 kilograms of cocaine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons and 109 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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