'La Familia cartel boss' Mendez Vargas held in Mexico

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has congratulated police on the capture of the alleged leader of one the country's top drug gangs, the La Familia cartel.

Police arrested Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, also known as "The Monkey", in the central city of Aguascalientes.

Mr Calderon described the capture as a great blow to organised crime.

La Familia has a reputation for violence but claims to protect local communities and promote family values.

Mexico's security spokesman Alejandro Poire said the arrest had "destroyed the chain of command" of the cartel.

The Mexican Attorney General's Office said Mr Mendez Vargas was "responsible for the transfer and sale of cocaine, marijuana, crystal methamphetamine in various states of Mexico and the US".

He is also accused of having masterminded the kidnappings and killings of rival gang members.

International links

A previous leader of La Familia, Nazario Moreno, was killed by security forces in December 2010.

Meanwhile, police in Colombia have arrested three men suspected of being senior figures in the international drugs trade.

Julian Hernando Dias Porras, also known as "The Horseman", Orlando Rodriguez Castrillon, aka "The Indian", and Argemiro Sierra Pastrana, whose alias is the "Grey-Haired One", are wanted on charges of trafficking drugs from Colombia across most of Latin America, and to the US and Europe.

The Colombian authorities said they would be extradited to Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina respectively.

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