MEXICO CITY — Federal police on Tuesday captured one of Mexico's most-wanted suspected drug lords, an alleged leader of the Michoacan crime family, which has tentacles deep into the United States.
The federal police said that Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, widely known by the nickname "El Chango," was captured in Aguascalientes, in central Mexico.
"Great blow by the federal police to organized crime," President Felipe Calderon said in a Twitter posting. "One of the most hunted criminals was captured. Congratulations."
Details were sparse of what led police to Mendez Vargas, a burly 37-year-old with a bounty of $2.55 million on his head.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The crime family, known in Spanish as La Familia Michoacana, emerged three years ago and made brutality a hallmark. It cornered much of the market for methamphetamine, creating "super labs" that effectively undercut many "mom and pop" meth labs in the United States.
Mendez Vargas is alleged to be a co-leader of the group, along with Nazario Moreno, an ideological leader who cast himself as a Christlike figure and was given to homey aphorisms about how to lead a proper life.
Authorities said Moreno was killed Dec. 9 in a shootout in Michoacan, but his body has never been displayed publicly.