World News

Factbox: Key facts about the La Familia drug cartel

(Reuters) - Nazario “The Craziest One” Moreno, a leader of La Familia drug cartel who gained notoriety with a booklet of his self-help slogans, may have been killed in a clash between Mexican federal forces and traffickers, the government said on Thursday.

Below are some facts about the cartel, based in President Felipe Calderon’s home state of Michoacan in western Mexico:

* La Familia uses pseudo-religious philosophy to justify the grisly murders of rivals and keep its own traffickers from abusing drugs.

* One of its other suspected leaders, Servando Gomez, known as “El Profe” (The Prof), was registered as a teacher in a regional school as recently as the first half of this year.

* La Familia claims to protect Michoacan, which borders the Pacific, from incursions by other drug cartels and provide gifts to locals like cash handouts to poor families.

* The cartel was hit last year by the arrests of two top leaders and is fighting the Zetas and the Beltran Leyva cartel for control of Michoacan’s coast where traffickers receive illegal shipments of chemicals to make methamphetamines.

* Early in November, hand-printed banners were strung up in several towns across Michoacan, saying the gang would disband if the federal government promised to defend the region from other drug gangs.

Editing by Bill Trott