DEA raid targets Mexican drug cartel La Familia

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MICHOACAN, Mexico -- La Familia is firmly rooted in the southern Mexican state Michoacan.  The group emerged just a few years ago and has quickly evolved into one of the most brutal forces fighting for a share of the illegal drug.

You could blame geography for the birth of this homegrown band of traffickers. The state’s pacific coast is a major link in the meth and cocaine supply chain; the site of meth superlabs. 

Howard Campbell is the author of the book Drug War Zone.  Campbell says "All the main Mexican cartels have their foot in Michoacan. A lot of people from Michoacan felt like they were not benefiting from this massively profitable drug trade so that’s why La Familia michoacana was formed."

The Mexican government blamed La Familia for a grenade attack on a crowd that killed 7 and injured 100 people. The group itself has claimed responsibility for dozens of beheadings.

La Familia expanded beyond Michaoacan by exploiting the state’s history of migration. The poor region has well-established immigrant smuggling routes that lead across the border and across the U.S. These routes are now largely controlled by drug traffickers.

Campbell says La Familia is "distinctive from other such organizations in Mexico because they actually have a written bible. It’s sort of a quasi-cult organization."

La Familia has a network of followers on both sides of the border.