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. ibrad

    Just like the ATF. How many drugs did these groups let in to see where it all went ? How many people(DEA,FBI,CIA) made money off of that also?

    July 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chuy Sanchez

    mega ORALES! Great work, the cooperation to destroy these violent merciless carteles is very encouraging.

    July 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. yard

    Just means 2000 more job openings with the Familia or others.....when money and greed is in play, more will come to take their places

    July 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saftgek

    Excellent ! Glad to see there is actually enforcement going on. Now, if only lawmakers would get it together and make ALL manufacturing, growing and distributing of illicit substances capital offenses – and our country would actually apply that penalty – we could really make a dent in the drug catastrophe we face.

    July 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John B

    I could find more than that just by cruising the parking lots of Home Depot in Florida. Just Florida. Now imagine if I could hit every state at the same time. Or better yet...the Medicaid buildings or hospital waiting rooms. Imagine the savings!!! Go ahead...bash me as a racist. I'm not...just a fed up American.

    July 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ruderalis

    2,722 Kilos = 6,000 lbs of COKE

    July 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mjh

    WHAT MATTERS IS THAT SOMETHING WAS DONE OR SHALL I DRAW YOU A PICTURE FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THAT BELIEVE THERE IS STILL HOPE

    July 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Glad they were caught on this side of the border. The Mexican authorities are notorious for losing suspects and prisoners.

      July 24, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Captain Crunch

    Execute all of these guys ... quickly. That'll discourage more from stepping up.

    July 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • gfg

      no it wont

      July 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      gfg – I don't agree with Captain Crunch's proposal, but he is right that it would definitely discourage replacement criminals.

      July 24, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Captain Crunch

    Reduction in imported MJ = Greater marketshare for domestic MJ. Reduction in illegal aliens = Less fans at Lakers, Raiders, and Dodgers games.

    July 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Random

      Thank you! It's funny because it's true.

      July 24, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. justsaynow

    Beat drug prohibition the old fashion way. With jury nullification. A jury member can throw away a million dollar drug investigation with one refusal to convict. Do that enough times and the drug war will end.

    July 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • D987654321

      Yes, and I'm sure those FOURTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS OF MARIJUANA are just simply going to be destroyed.

      Sure. Pull the other one. LOL.

      July 24, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. SteveR

    How were they able to exclude Az when they mad arrests in Ca and TX?? Are they ignoring AZ because of the crazy 1070 lawsuit and the difficulty it causes. hard to imagine this cartel did not have strong az channels as well

    July 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Expatriate

    A little misleading . . . . perhaps intentionally. Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was arrested by Mexican authorities and the DEA had nothing to do with it. The caption below the photo clearly suggests that they did.

    July 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. b. Slider

    ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER, ABDULLAH THE BUTCEHR, ABDULLAH TEH BUTCEHR, ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER
    any more questions?
    I didn't think so!!!!

    July 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DJA

    Way to go guys/gals!!!!

    July 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sadam Hussein Obama bin Laden

    How's that change thing working for you?

    July 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      A lot better than your blatant racism and willful disregard for facts and validated information.

      July 24, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
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