News and Press Releases


July 21, 2011

WASHINGTON – Approximately 1,985 individuals have been arrested on narcoticsrelated
charges as part of a 20-month multi-agency law enforcement investigation known as
“Project Delirium,” which targeted the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the Department of
Justice announced today.

As part of an ongoing takedown that began June 1, 2011, 221 individuals have been
arrested across the United States as part of Project Delirium, including more than 70 individuals
apprehended yesterday and today. In addition, $ 770,499 in U.S. currency, 635 pounds of
methamphetamine, 118 kilograms of cocaine and 24 pounds of heroin were seized by law
enforcement agents since June 1, 2011.

“Through coordinated and strategic efforts like Project Delirium, we are disrupting the
operations of Mexican drug cartels in the United States and Mexico,” said Deputy Attorney
General James Cole. “Today, we see drug traffickers operating in urban and rural communities
alike. The arrests and seizures we are announcing today have stripped La Familia of its
manpower, its deadly product and its profit, and helped make communities large and small safer.
The department is determined to continue our aggressive efforts, along with our Mexican law
enforcement partners, to diminish and ultimately eliminate the threat posed by these dangerous

“Through the Secretariat of Public Security, the Government of Mexico has seen
increased results in their fight against the drug trafficking organizations,” said Mexico’s
Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna. “Due to increased information sharing and
collaboration with the DEA, these efforts have resulted in successful and significant arrests and
seizures of drugs and money.”

“Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and
destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” said Administrator Michele M.
Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Through their violent drug
trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine
imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying
countless lives on both sides of the border. The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S.
law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization by capturing its leaders,
strangling its distribution networks, and relentlessly pursuing its members and those who
facilitate them.”

“Law enforcement officials here in the U.S., in Mexico and all around the world are
cooperating at unprecedented levels. There is a willingness  like never before  to work handin-
hand to fight the cartels, the criminal enterprises and the violent gangs that threaten the peace
and security of people on both sides of the border,” said John Morton, director of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Investigations such as Project Delirium target the dangers these organizations pose to
the United States and Mexico,” said Shawn Henry, FBI’s executive assistant director of the
Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “The FBI, together with our federal and
international law enforcement partners, will continue to commit our resources to combat the
threat posed by transnational criminal enterprises.”

Project Delirium is the result of information gathered during the course of a previous
effort targeting La Familia, known as Project Coronado. To date, Project Delirium has led to the
arrest of 1,985 individuals and the seizure of approximately $62 million in U.S. currency, and
approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of
heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.

As part of Project Delirium, arrests have been made or charges have been unsealed to
date in the following districts: the Northern District of Alabama; the Central, Eastern and
Southern Districts of California; the District of Colorado; the District of Columbia; the Northern
District of Georgia; the District of Kansas; the Eastern District of Michigan; the District of
Minnesota; the Eastern District of Missouri; the District of New Mexico; the Eastern and
Western Districts of North Carolina; the Western District of Tennessee; and the Northern,
Southern and Western Districts of Texas. On June 21, 2011, Mexican law enforcement arrested
La Familia leader and Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT) Jose de Jesus
Mendez-Vargas, aka “El Chango” or “The Monkey,” based on Mexican charges.

Individuals indicted in these cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including:
conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; distribution of
methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States;
money laundering; and other violations of federal law. Numerous defendants face forfeiture
allegations as well.

An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigative efforts in Project Delirium were coordinated by the multi-agency
Special Operations Division, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal
Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, as well as
attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of
International Affairs. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies
contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Delirium through the Organized
Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.

The department thanks the Government of Mexico and its Mexican law enforcement
partners for their continued partnership and collaboration in the ongoing efforts to combat
Mexican drug cartels.



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