José de Jesús Méndez Vargas

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José de Jesús Méndez Vargas
Born (1974-02-28) February 28, 1974 (age 45)[1]
El Aguaje, Michoacán, Mexico
Other namesEl Chango"[2]
OccupationLeader of La Familia Michoacana
Criminal statusArrested
$2.1 million USD bounty
Criminal chargeDrug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, murder

José de Jesús Méndez Vargas (born 28 February 1974), commonly referred to by his alias El Chango ("The Ape"), is a Mexican drug lord and former leader of the now disbanded La Familia drug cartel, headquartered in the state of Michoacán.[3][4][5]

Méndez took control of the cartel after its former leader, Nazario Moreno, was allegedly killed in a shootout with Mexican Federal Police on December 9, 2010.[6] His protection was the responsibility of twelve gunmen he called the "Twelve Apostles".[7] His leadership, however, was disputed by Servando Gómez Martínez and Enrique Plancarte Solís who left the organization and formed the Knights Templar.

Kingpin Act sanction[edit]

On 25 February 2010, the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Méndez under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (sometimes referred to simply as the "Kingpin Act"), for his involvement in drug trafficking along with twenty-one other international criminals and ten foreign entities.[8] The act prohibited U.S. citizens and companies from doing any kind of business activity with him, and virtually froze all his assets in the U.S.[9]


Méndez was captured at a road checkpoint on June 21, 2011 by Mexican Federal police in the state of Aguascalientes.[10] The Mexican government had offered a $30 million pesos (US$2.1 million) bounty for information leading to Méndez's capture.[11] On 8 April 2014, a Mexican federal court rejected Méndez's writ of amparo (equivalent to an injunction) to prevent his extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in a New York federal court for drug trafficking offenses.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA: On April 15, 2009, President Obama identified LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker. "Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act." U.S. Department of the Treasury. Office of Foreign Assets Control. February 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  2. ^ Policía detiene a Jesús Méndez 'El Chango', presunto líder de 'La Familia': El gobierno mexicano dijo que la captura de Jesús Méndez, 'El Chango', "destruye" la estructura de mando de la organización criminal. CNN Mexico. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  3. ^ Steve Fainaru; William Booth (June 13, 2009). "A Mexican Cartel's Swift and Grisly Climb". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
  4. ^ "Narcos mexicanos matan a 12 policías en venganza por captura de un capo". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  5. ^ La Familia Michoacana - leadership chart Archived 2010-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "'La Familia cartel boss' Mendez Vargas held in Mexico". BBC News. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  7. ^ Carlos Quiroz (22 June 2011). "El Chango Méndez estaba rodeado por sus '12 apóstoles'". Excelsior. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  8. ^ "DESIGNATIONS PURSUANT TO THE FOREIGN NARCOTICS KINGPIN DESIGNATION ACT" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. 15 May 2014. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  9. ^ "An overview of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. 2009. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  10. ^ Rene Hernandez; Catherine E. Shoichet (21 June 2011). "Top cartel leader captured". CNN News. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  11. ^ DUDLEY ALTHAUS (March 24, 2009). "Mexico offers $2 million each for top 24 drug lords". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
  12. ^ Mosso, Rubén (8 April 2014). "Niegan amparo a 'El Chango' Méndez". Milenio (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.

External links[edit]