DEA nabs nearly 2,000 in cartel crackdown
Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, head of La Familia cartel, was arrested last month as part of a crackdown on the drug gang.
July 22nd, 2011
08:00 AM ET

DEA nabs nearly 2,000 in cartel crackdown

The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested nearly 2,000 people in the United States as part of a 20-month strike against Mexico's La Familia Michoacana cartel, law enforcement officials said.

In a statement Thursday, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said the strike, called Project Deliriium, netted 1,985 arrests and $62 million in a blow to the notorious cartel.

Dozens of arrests occurred in several states, including Texas, California, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama, Minnesota and New Mexico.

“Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” Leonhart said.

Authorities also seized a sizable stash of drugs, including 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, the statement said.

The crackdown marks a strengthened effort by DEA and Mexican law enforcement officials to collaborate on a major drug trafficking organization, authorities said.

“Law enforcement officials here in the U.S., in Mexico and all around the world are cooperating at unprecedented levels. There is a willingness - like never before - to work hand in hand to fight the cartels, the criminal enterprises and the violent gangs that threaten the peace and security of people on both sides of the border,” said John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the statement.

Project Delirium and before it, Project Coronado, were part of a sustained strike against La Familia, which has seen its leadership structure decimated over the past several months by high-profile arrests.

Last month, Mexican authorities arrested La Familia leader Jose de Jesus Mendez-Vargas, aka "El Chango" or "the Monkey."

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
soundoff (357 Responses)
  1. 420

    Funny how they crackdown on the la familia cartel now that its no longer an allie of the sinaloa cartel. Which is supported by both mexican and U.S. goverments.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. judas/knows

    my sentiments exactly....keep the drugs,put them away,hahah

    July 22, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. obvious lee


    July 22, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. j

    If the USA would legalize the stuff that grows from the ground we would not have to deal with half of this crap...we could tax the pot and create jobs on a pot farm and help our own deficit...lessen the financial burdens of parents sitting in jail over the stuff by cutting the taxpayers from that burden and bring parents back into the places they need to be in

    July 22, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Why

    We simply should not have our freedoms taken away by the Federal Gov. Drug policy is a government policy to treat and react to citizens who use or posses drugs. It is a system of control that is a construct of human society. Some drugs are natual by products of plants. Our abuse of them lies in the mind, that is where the issue needs to be addressed. It should not impact the lives of others IE financially or in any other way. Several banned substances grow for free, but through restriction, a black market has been created.

    Main example is Marijuana. IE weed. Its called weed because it grows as such.. Its harder to get rid of it than to grow in the wild, so why then is it a multi billion dollar industry?

    July 22, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bud

    Wow! Folks on here really like their drugs!! LOL. Well look at yourselfs and you will see the problems. No other country has legalized hard drugs yet you think America should be the first. Your knuckle heads. I've been around the world and I have seen how the real world works. You can legalize it all and the criminals would still find ways make their money and then you would have a generation of misfits. Drug use is a social issue. Americans and their can't live without the pain lifestyle. It hurts so I need some meth or cocaine to take the pain away. Get over it you losers. Pain is a part of life. Stop trying to sale your drugged out philosophy to my children. Good Day, Bud.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      we live in a sick society. all of these doper can't face the hard facts of reality so they hide behind drugs as a sense of power. we have released 39 people in 2 years where I work for random drug testing. all very good paying jobs. they knew up front that there would be drug testing, yet chose to not adhere and risk their employment. now their families suffer. a rule is a rule, whether you agree with it or not!

      July 22, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • obvious lee

      Wow for travelong around the world and seeing so much u sure have an ignorant outlook. R u a real american or are u that coward that hides behind patriotism, ? According to our laws in america I can't outlaw something that grows natrually. U should study our laws to get an understanding on how things should b

      July 22, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • forreal?

      Geez should check YOUR grammar b4 start calling people knuckleheads. (Learn the difference bw your and you're) Further, Portugal has decriminalized all dru gs and have moved toward a treatment model (rather than a crime and punishment model) to deal with the dru g problem. You should probably try and think b4 making "righteous" statements about something you know nothing about.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Actually Portugal legalized drugs and/or decriminalized hard drugs.

      Do you drink Bud? Because alcohol will kill more people tonight than have died from Marijuana in the past 100 years.

      Alcohol is deadly, weed is not. Tylenol causes more harm/death than marijuana. The only bad thing about marijuana is that it's illegal. Anybody that gets hurt from marijuana is actually being hurt by the actions of the underground market, not pot itself.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • TheOne

      Bud, what if we compromise? We legalize weed and put to death those who sell cocaine and heroin.

      July 22, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I am not one to comment very often but your statement that no country has legalized drugs is incorrect. Portugal legalized all drugs in 2004 and according to the 2011 Global Commission on the War Against Drugs Report they have seen a decrease in the usage of harder drugs and an increase in the use of cannabis that is no higher then the increase in countries where cannibis is illegal. If you really want to learn about the war on drugs I would highly reccomend that you read this report. Sorry to tell you that the reports findings and recomendations are similiar to comments on this string and do not coinside with your point of view.

      July 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. answer

    just so everyone knows, this is bad news with a positive spin. Your tax dollars being spent to limit your options. It doesn't matter if you would never choose them – what matters is whether or not you could if you wanted to.

    But, CNN is so anti-pot it's rediculous. I've yet to see them put a positive spin on an pro-pot story – or a negative spin on an anti-pot story. Media sources shouldn't have a bias on which laws should or should not exist. Just report, CNN. You are not democratically elected legislators. Stop trying to sway the law.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Time Bandit

    YOOHOO! Good for the DEA, we need to have those in the U.S. gone after. hhhmmm wonder if my mother in laws ex husband was nabbed yet. Last I heard, DEA is looking for him since he was a dealer. Over a decade ago my brother in law was sent to this ass in Arizona because he had a drug problem, he came back hooked on Crystal Meth. He didn't last long on this planet, I know we can't irradicate drugs but the authorities can put a big dent in their business.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Why

    Did you see anything on your travels with such a closed mind?

    July 22, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. ella

    I agree with you NANCY. Most indian immigrants do seem to be druggies and potheeads. I think it may be part of their religion or something. I wish taking a bath was part of their religion.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • illegitimate_lovechild

      I wish ignorance was painful and that genies really came in bottles.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      That is a very prejudice statement. I know very many Indian immigrants and they are nice people and they bathe!

      July 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |

    I luv drugs i do them everyday!

    July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      it shows!

      July 22, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jake Sanders

    Opinions opinions- isolation from the world is not the answer the u.s. needs to financially contribute to have allies. You may not like it but that is the way it works. Closing our boarders is not the solution either because we need immigration to sustain our way of life and contributes to economic growth. Crime is not a color. The media paints a color for a story. Prisons lock up every race and look back at major crimes every race has played a role. Crime and drugs are unavoidable like metal illness you just deal with it the best you can. History has always had crime which can only be dealt with in a court room which period.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      do not compare mental illness with dopers. no one choose to have mental illness. but dopers choose to be dopers!

      July 22, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • FrankG

      Alcohol is the worst dope !!!

      July 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Trevor

    Glad that no one here realizes that the DEA keeps drugs illegal as to guarantee a career for themselves and the prison industry. The only way to fix the problem is through treatment, which our government doesn't care about. It's more profitable to lock users and distributors up.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      treatment doesn't work
      waste of good money
      just flush them down the toilet

      July 22, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • CC

      I agree with you, Trevor.

      It appears Steve here hasn't read any of the actual studies and just drinks the koolaid.

      July 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • truethinker

      Who pays for all that treatment? Prevention is cheaper than cure. Also how long as the DEA been writing laws?

      July 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ronald Hussein Reagan

    Well, now that the war on drugs is won things will undoubtedly get a lot better.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Suckermucker

    ha. ha.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • illegitimate_lovechild

      giggity. giggity.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
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