The leader of one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels was captured my Mexican federal police.  Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, also known as El Chango or The Monkey, is the leader of the El Familia gang and was one of Mexico's most wanted drug lords.

The arrest is a positive step in Mexico's drug war and a huge blow to the gang, which has been awash with in-fighting recently.

Mendez took over the cartel after founder and leader Nazario Moreno was killed by police in December. Since then, the cartel has split into two sects, both equally destructive.

Mendez was wanted for a number of serious crimes, including murder, kidnapping and extortion. Authorities have tied the gang chief to grenade and gun attacks on Mexican civilians. There had been a $2 million reward set for his apprehension.

With this capture, what was left of the command structure of this criminal organization is destroyed, Alejandro Poire, the government's security affairs spokesman, told the press.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon used his Twitter feed to congratulate police on the Mendez arrest.

A large blow by federal police to organized crime. One of the most wanted criminals was captured. Congratulations, he tweeted.

Based in Michoacan, a south-western Mexican state, La Familia is a drug trafficking organization that deals largely with methamphetamines headed to the United States. They are also involved with the cocaine and marijuana trade. The group uses violence and payouts to intimidate and control local officials and villages.

After the death of Moreno, then second-in-command Mendez took over the gang, but Servando 'La Tuta Gomez broke off and formed rival gang The Knights Templar.

La Familia is thought to be behind the torture and murder of twenty-one men whose bodies were discovered scattered on a highway earlier this month.  Last year, La Familia was behind the beheading of twelve police officers.

Drug-related violence in Mexico exploded in 2006 when the government launched an offensive against organized crime. Since then, 37,000 people have been killed, including civilians, government officials and army soldiers.

Slideshow: Mexico's drug war in Pictures