As a result of running gun battles between La Familia Michoacana and Mexican government forces that raged week-long across the western state of Michoacan, a serious blow was dealt to the Christianist drug cartel Thursday. The head and spiritual leader of La Familia, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez — El Chayo — was shot and killed.
Nazario “El Chayo” Moreno, one of the purported founders of “La Familia” drug cartel, was thought to have died during a battle this week with security forces, said Alejandro Poiré, the Mexican spokesman on security matters.
Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, the leader of Mexico’s La Familia drug cartel, was shot and killed yesterday by authorities in the western state of Michoacan, government security spokesman Alejandro Poire said today.
Moreno, known as “El Chayo,” was a founder of what the U.S. government calls “one of Mexico’s newest and most violent drug cartels.” The Mexican government had Moreno on its most- wanted list, offering 30 million pesos ($2.4 million) for information that could lead to his arrest.
The extensive fighting underscored the government’s growing willingness to fight the ultra-violent cartel. El Chayo’s death is a big victory for Mexico, its people, and President Felipe Calderon. The horrible intrastate violence came at a steep price, though: a number of people were injured and killed, civilians included.
The conflict in Michoacán included shootouts between federal forces and cartel gunmen in 12 cities across the state. Among the dead: the teenage daughter of a city mayor and an eight-month-old baby who authorities said was hit by a stray bullet.
This week’s sweeping battles took a toll on security forces. Five federal police were killed along with three people believed to be drug gang members, Mr. Poiré said.
The damage done to La Familia Michoacan as a result of El Chayo’s death is yet to be known, but is likely significant. La Familia was famous not only for its extremely violent ways — beheadings were a trademark of the group — but also for its demands that members follow an extremist Christianity inspired by American John Eldredge.
A favorite of James Dobson and his ‘Focus on the Family,’ Eldredge wrote and taught about a brand of Christian men’s life that emphasized machismo. Eldredege claimed that the essential nature of men, as personified by Jesus Christ, is one of being ‘Wild at Heart,’ the title of his book that made the dubious case.
El Chayo took Eldredge to heart, and reinforced the ‘wild’ idea to its members. It was he who created the disciplined but contrasting behavior of a drug gang who were quick to ambush and kill policemen, assassinate cartel rivals whose severed heads became public calling cards, but also to read and take to heart both Eldredge’s incitements as well as El Chayo’s: he wrote his own ‘bible’ and proudly distributed it freely to members and Michoacanas.
We will see how effectively his lieutenants can carry on his spiritual philosophy and teachings. With La Familia Michoacana, the personal imprints of ‘El Mas Loco’ certainly fueled its quick rise to success, notoriety, and vast riches. Within the world of the cartels, eternally at war with the government of Mexico and its people, we hope they fail.
ADD: Here’s a Google-and-me translated sketch of the notorious life of La Familia’s now dead leader, Moreno Gonzales:
Julián Rodríguez Marín | Dec. 10, 2010
(EFE) – He was considered a messiah by his countrymen, but Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias “El Chayo,” cartel leader of La Familia Michoacana, was more likely to bring “divine justice” to his enemies.
Also known as “El Mas Loco,” Gonzales was killed yesterday in a lengthy shootout with Mexican security forces in his native Apatzingan, one of his strongholds in the southwestern state that served as a base, Michoacán . .
According to sources, as leader of the cartel, Gonzales evangelized members into La Familia by recruiting recovering drug addicts in clinics opened, ironically, to treat addictions to the drugs he dealt.
Once clean, they were prohibited from using drugs and alcohol and became part of “The Family.” Prayer meetings and target practice were parts of their discipline.
The group took a major leap in the scale of drug smuggling in 2004 through an alliance with the powerful northern Gulf cartel operating in his name and under the name “The Company.”
La Familia offered loans to farmers, businesses, schools and churches, and provided social support to the area’s most disadvantaged.
This won some support among sectors of Michoacán, which offered the cartel a large network of informers and collaborators, including politicians and police . .
According to several experts, La Familia’s core businesses included dealing cocaine, marijuana and designer drugs in Mexico and to the U.S., and frequently employed kidnapping, beheadings, torture and extortion among their violent tactics.
In 2006, several gunmen threw five heads onto the dance floor of a nightclub, along with the message: “La Familia does not kill for money, does not kill women, does not kill innocent people, only those who deserve to die. Know that this is divine justice.”
After a series of challenges by the Government, which offered a reward of 2.4 million dollars for “El Chayo”, La Familia suffered a series of setbacks in 2009.
In August of 2009, President Felipe Calderón, a native of Michoacan, sent thousands of soldiers and police to the state in retaliation for the killing of twelve federal police and to check the growing brazenness of the cartel. One year and four months later, “El Chayo” was shot and killed.