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Mexico says lacks tools to fight drug war -paper

Yahoo News October 13, 2006

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico lacks the tools to fight drug mafias that are terrorising the nation with a grisly spate of murders and beheadings, the country's top prosecutor said in an interview published on Thursday.

Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said police need more training to confront drug gangs and higher salaries to stop officers from taking bribes.

"They do not have any training, there are no controls, and there is no coordination between police agencies," Cabeza de Vaca told the daily El Universal.

Violent crime has exploded in recent months, with drug gang hitmen carrying out a string of gruesome murders.

Around a dozen severed human heads have been dumped in public places in the central state of Michoacan over the past month, including five that were tossed onto the dance floor of a bar by an armed gang wearing ski masks.

Killings linked to gangs fighting over turf and protection became commonplace along northern border cities after President Vicente Fox launched a new campaign to target drug lords in January 2005.

Curbing violent crime is one of the top challenges facing President-elect Felipe Calderon when he takes office on December 1 and he promised to take a tough stance on the issue.

Police salaries need to be raised to discourage corruption, Cabeza de Vaca said. Municipal officers only earn around 2,000 pesos a month (98 pounds).

"Obviously they are easy prey for criminal groups of any sort," he said.

Mexico must also change the law to give police the power to investigate crimes, he said. Currently, separate public prosecutors do the detective work in probes.

"The tools aren't there to fight (crime) as people are demanding," the attorney general said.

In 2003, Mexican businessmen paid for former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to come up with a plan to clamp down on rampant crime in Mexico City. New York City crime rates fell under his mayorship.

Giuliani's top recommendations were to pay police more and to unify the nation's many police forces.