Short article from TIME about—get this—a violent Mexican Fundamentalist Christian methamphetamine cartel putting billions of dollars of crude crank on the American black market—about 100 tons—each year. The Obama Administration has called La Familia “a significant foreign narcotics trafficker” and Attorney General Eric Holder singled out their “depravity.”
Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s military push-back against the traffickers has had little effect. On April 24, 2010, La Familia made a bold attack on the car of Mexico’s public safety secretary, Minerva Bautista. But forget fighting the government, that’s for the little guys. The praying La Familia cartel wants to become the government by putting their own candidates into political office:
Mexico’s newest drug cartel, and certainly the most bizarre, is La Familia Michoacana, a violent but Christian fundamentalist narco-gang based in the torrid Tierra Caliente region of western Michoacan state. The group is infamous for methamphetamine smuggling, lopping off enemies’ heads and limbs, and massacring police and soldiers. (Most recently, on June 14, a band of Familia gunmen ambushed a federal police convoy in Michoacan, killing 12.) Yet La Familia’s leader, Nazario Moreno — aka El Mas Loco, or The Craziest One — has written his own bible, and his 1,500 minions hold prayer meetings before doing their grisly work.
La Familia, which has started to expand beyond Michoacan, poses more than theological problems for Mexican President Felipe Calderon. His 3½–year-long military offensive against drug traffickers, a period that has seen 23,000 gangland-style murders in Mexico, looks increasingly on the ropes. And amidst it all, investigators tell TIME, La Familia is establishing a troubling new narco-business model: It doesn’t merely buy off officials, it puts its own candidates in power. “Other cartels just pay off the political structure in order to be able to do their business,” says a Michoacan investigator, who estimates the group controls 83 of the state’s 113 municipal governments. “La Familia is making itself the political structure.”
Last fall, a DEA sting snared over 300 Familia operatives working in America. This is really fucking Sci-Fi isn’t it? Sci-Fi meets Breaking Bad, I should say…
Mexico’s Meth Warriors (TIME)
Photo essay of the Mexican drug war by Shaul Schwarz (TIME)