Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

La Familia Michoacana operating in Washington D.C.

12/15/10 WTOP News - WASHINGTON - Authorities blocked a notorious Mexican drug cartel from gaining a foothold in the nation's capital with a series of arrests and indictments in a massive trafficking scheme, police said Wednesday.

Eight illegal immigrants were arrested over the weekend in Georgia and North Carolina, and on Tuesday a federal grand jury in the District indicted all eight plus a ninth man who remains at large.

Authorities said they seized about 80 pounds of crystal meth with a street value of more than $3.5 million, by far the largest meth seizure in Washington's history. The previous record was about two pounds.

"Usually we see (crystal meth) the size of pebbles," said John Torres, special agent in charge of the Washington office of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "In this case we're talking icicles."

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says they also seized 10 gallons of liquid meth, more than 1,000 grams of cocaine, 11 pounds of marijuana, three guns and more than $35,000 in cash.

Those arrested have links to the "La Familia" drug cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacan, police said. Authorities were eager to keep the cartel from gaining a foothold in Washington because of its reputation for brutality.

"They have no qualms about using violence _ murder, kidnapping," Torres said.

Cartel members are especially dangerous to the U.S. because they refuse as a matter of honor to sell drugs to fellow Mexicans, Torres said. So they're always on the lookout for export markets.

"It's almost cult-like down in Michoacan _ they don't want to turn their own Mexican citizens into drug addicts. But they have no qualms about selling it here," Torres said.

The Washington region in particular was an attractive market because, historically, the city has not been exposed to high levels of crystal meth abuse. That could change quickly, Lanier said, if it became readily available because of the drug's highly addictive nature.

As eager as Lanier is to keep crystal meth and the cartel out of the city, she admitted during a news conference Wednesday that she considered pulling the plug midway through the three-week undercover investigation because of the unusually high risk of violence from the cartel.

In the end, all the arrests were made safely.

The trafficking scheme's accused ringleaders _ Esteban Almontes Rodriguez, 25, most recently of Temple Hills, Md., and Alberto Garcia Calderon, 36, were arrested Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. Also arrested in that city were Alejandro Quintana Cardenas, 25, and Moises Ramirez-Perez, believed to be 19. In Atlanta, authorities arrested Alfonso Martinez-Cruz, 39; Jesus Bustos-Penaloza, 52; Felipe Alvarado-Ponce, 36, and Sergio Garcia-Virelas, 24. A ninth defendant known only as "Jorge" remains at large.

Attorneys for Ramirez-Perez and Cardenas declined comment on the substance of the charges. The suspects arrested in Atlanta did not have attorneys listed in court records. Rodriguez has asked for a court-appointed lawyer, and Calderon did not yet have an attorney.

La Familia has been the most flamboyant of Mexico's drug cartels, combining violence with religious messages and professions of love for their state. The gang claims it is trying to protect Michoacan from other cartels.

Earlier this month, federal police shot and killed the group's leader, Nazario Moreno, 40, a quirky figure who urged cartel members to follow a code of morality even as they were decapitating rivals and terrorizing civilians in Michoacan.



  1. Wow. La Familia is really taking some hits lately, they just lost some distribution cells in Atlanta about three weeks ago, and now another one in DC? That rarely happens, as far as I can tell, plus the turmoil in Michoacan. I wonder what will happen in the near future with LFM.

  2. I'm sure Mexican law enforcement tortured some of the members they caught over the weaken and passed the intel over to their us counterparts. Keep up the good work on both sides, this is the only way to cut off the cartels cash flow.

  3. Hmmm...maybe this will produce some much needed attention.

  4. I'm sure they didn't, this was a long term investigation with informants, and undercover agents buying directly from those who were arrested.

  5. "As eager as Lanier is to keep crystal meth and the cartel out of the city, she admitted during a news conference Wednesday that she considered pulling the plug midway through the three-week undercover investigation because of the unusually high risk of violence from the cartel"

    How much sense does that make? She was going to pull the plug because of the high risk of violence. If trained law enforcement is concerned about the violence, what are us lay men(women) suppose to do?

  6. capr... lfm aint takin no hits ... dey got so much money stored away and mega labs in the mountains in micho.... so ders 48 other

  7. I am sure they took a small hit but not enough to dismantel much of their inflowing cash flow. I wouldn't say they are supplying 48 states but they do seem to have strong ties out in the Midwest and East Coast. I think it would take several busts for them to dismantel them. That being in the states or in Mexico. Only way to dismantel cartles is to stop buying drugs. No demand means no market or business. So Americans stop buying drugs. Tell your friends, family anyone you know to not by drugs. Only way to stop the demand and thirst for the American market is to stop putting money into to these guys. But you know what America needs their fix and Americans needs their drugs...Plain and simple. So where there is a coke head needing coke their will someone trying to sell him an eightball. Just the sign of the times we live in.


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