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

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Martin Rosales Magana, La Familia Cartel Leader, Captured

Huffington Post

One of the last major leaders of the pseudo-religious La Familia drug gang has been captured, Mexican officials said Wednesday, an arrest that has provided insights into the final days of one of the country's most bizarre criminal cartels.

Martin Rosales Magana had been on the run since a breakaway gang threatened to kill relatives of those who still sympathized with La Familia, said federal police anti-drug chief Ramon Pequeno. He allegedly took refuge in a state bordering La Familia's stronghold of Michoacan and plotted an alliance with his group's old enemies, the Zetas.

At one point, Rosales Magana plotted to lead 200 Zetas and La Familia gunmen in an assault on Apatzingan, a city in western Mexico now dominated by the equally cult-like Knights Templar cartel that broke away from his group, Pequeno said. The plan was to generate outrage at violence and trigger a crackdown on the rival gang.

Rosales Magana and three other men were arrested Tuesday in the neighboring State of Mexico.

The Knights Templar split from La Familia in March, and it quickly used threats and armed force to displace La Familia in Michoacan. The groups both said they were founded to fend off the hyper-violent Zetas, and both employ pseudo-religious rhetoric depicting themselves as defenders of the public against extortionists and kidnappers.

Both, however, are drug-trafficking organizations and demand protection payments from business owners and farmers. La Familia had claimed it allowed its members to traffic, but not consume, drugs. But in the end, its members did the unthinkable: they turned to their old foes, the Zetas, widely feared for their bloody, military style of controlling turf.

Following the arrest in June of La Familia boss Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, alias "El Chango," or "The Monkey," Pequeno said, Rosales Magana's associates met with the Zetas in Zacatecas, a state to the north of Michoacan, to ask for help in fighting the Knights Templar.

"They met with the Zetas to ask for operational assistance, weapons and salaries (for gunmen) and expense money, in order to recoup important cities held by the Knights Templar," Pequeno told a news conference.

Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said Rosales Magana "was trying to regroup the isolated cells that were still operating," but said the alliance with Zetas didn't work. The La Familia traffickers no longer had much access to the precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamine, one of their main source of income.

Rosales Magana and his associates spent their final days in a rural area near the border of their home state, hunted. The Knights Templar strung up banners in towns throughout Michoacan offering rewards for anyone who handed them over.

Rosas said "if there is any structure that is weakened at this point, it is La Familia ... We are certain that shortly, it will be totally dismembered," adding that police are now turning their attention to taking down the Knights Templar, who style themselves after the crusader-era monastic military order.

The factors that led to the cartel's downfall – arrests, infighting and pressure from rival gangs – mirror those that led to the downfall of two other gangs the government has largely dismantled: the Arellano Felix and Beltran Leyva cartels. However, in each case, the gangs' territories have largely been taken over by other cartels, most notably the Sinaloa group led by Joaquin Guzman, known as "El Chapo."


  1. Two points. What is the point in zip-tieing the guns to boxes to display them like they found treasure? They even tape the bullets into nice groups, and display them, too. It would be common assumptions that they had guns with them. They display every bust the same way! Drugs, money, communications equip, bullets, grenades, guns, and people look like prizes on a game show.

    Second, what is up with all the "EL" nicknames? Listening to the guys speech all I could make out was "El Chango", "El ...", "El.......". You would think that they would just use their normal names and not their slang names. I swear the Mexican media and country as a whole loves to romanticize every aspect of the drug war, and they sensationalize every bit they can. It's not professional at all.

  2. Humor, Mexican criminals are master liars, they can not trust even their own people, the idea that they attempt to work together is a huge joke, they spend time trying to screw each other. It is truly interesting that they can smuggle drugs at all. As for the Show Business parading criminals pure Mexican Politics, same photo op BS in the USA. Moral of Story Govt is Bull Shit, no matter what you call it or what country is employing it, ALL GOVT IS INHERINTLEY EVIL, the less there is, the better off the people are, the more people rely on themselves the better their lives will be. ARM the Mexican Public!!!

  3. @5:39 PM Actually displaying the captured arsenals in a detailed and organized manner is VERY professional and this is the way it is done with professional police and military organizations around the world. It is very good to be able to as clearly as possible see and identify the weapons and munitions the Cartels are getting supplied with. Know your enemy. Plus, many are RKBA's people who like to identify these pieces of equipment.

    As far as the "El" and romanticizing - there is no doubt about it. It is romanticized in the Mexican culture and the Narco-Ballader folk hero music is just one aspect of it.

    Another aspect is how we debate and strategize the narco-war and it's players like we are discussing sports teams. It's macabre, but it also serves a purpose to help people understand this highly complex and very fluid and dynamic war with it's horrendous violence.

  4. he looks like he is coming down off that meth

  5. This is very good to display the captured like this. I love the long, somber silence as the spectators, guests, officials, criminals, the Mexican nation and the people of the world contemplate this horrendous war and problem and think about all the horror, death, greed, misery and violence these individuals have wrought upon mankind.

    Very good job and a very professional display all around. Bravo to the Mexican people and government!

  6. @5:39pm
    Unfortunately for you, "EL" is a word used in evey day spainish. It has nothing to do with cartels.

  7. So the meeting and the relationship with Los Zetas didn't turn out well like La Familia hoped for, eventually the remaining La Familia cells will join the Los Zetas or Caballeros Templarios. With the captured of the current La Familia leader, will the Los Zetas move in on remaining La Familia turf or will the Caballeros Templarios do the first move? We will have to see.......

  8. October 5, 2011 5:39 PM Are you trying to say U.S gagsters don't use nicknames? Scareface, Baby face Nelson, Machingun Kelly, Billy the kid, the media presented this criminals by their nicknames or what about your gagster rapers 2pac Ice Cube. Did you know many actors and sport people don't use real names. Sorry I think I went off topic.

  9. Police officer looks hot though...

  10. Displaying them like this is a waste of time. Mexico is a country with a crippled economy, and they are spending time and money putting these criminals on display. 9 out of 10 wont even do jail time!! If they cant figure out how to keep them in prison what good is a photo op.

  11. The showcase is part of the cat n mouse chase. After the pussy gov. Has its rat for dinner its displayed as the main course. The guns all that other stuff its just the sides to complete the dinner. From their its to the belly of the beast aka prision.

  12. Bones haven't you noticed they only display the ones who are important.

    9 out of 10 wont even do jail time!!

    Are you for real? Can you mention witch one of the criminals who have been display are not in jail right now?

  13. @Texcoco
    Unfortunately we have to deal with rhetoricians trained by today's sound bite drive-by media.

  14. The display of criminal leadership or criminals involved in high profile cases to the exactly propaganda. It allows the gov't to illustrate the results or gains they have made with regards to a desired law enforcement goal. The display of weapons, contraband, equipment, or there to support the legitimacy of their (gov't) actions (evidence). I believe Mexico's use of these media displays are very professional indeed and projects the image the Mexican gov't is very much in control even if that is not the case.

  15. Rosales Magana Martin es una Feo gordo Campesino!

  16. When cameras zoom in for the head shot you can seem him swallow hard. I'd be thinkin: 'well at least this is better than getting my head chopped off!'

  17. @ the baboso who doesn't know what 'el' means: El is a definite article. The equivalent of the English word 'THE' as in Sammy " the bull" Gravano, or Vincent " the vet" Aulisi. Wait... I thought only Mexican narcos used nicknames with El / The?

  18. It's disturbing that they hide behind a name of true Christian warriors, only to traffic meth and massacre anyone that gets in their way, speed kills don't meth around.


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