Mexico sends force of 6,700 to battle drug cartels
CBC.ca, December 12, 2006
Mexico's new president is sending federal forces to
quell a violent drug war that has claimed hundreds of
lives in his home state of Michoacan.
More than 6,700 soldiers, sailors, police officers
and agents are heading to the western state as part of
President Felipe Calderon's promised crackdown on
Security officials said police and soldiers will
arrest traffickers, mount checkpoints and burn
marijuana and opium poppies grown in Michoacan's
rugged mountains. Navy ships will seal off the state's
short Pacific coast, which smugglers travel on their
way to the United States.
The federal forces will have access to 19 planes,
38 helicopters and four ships.
With its west coast ports, the rural state has been
overwhelmed by drug gangs fighting for of control grow
operations, manufacturing labs and drug routes to the
Mexico's drug cartels have been blamed for more
than 2,000 murders this year, including several police
chiefs, journalists, town mayors and at least one
Of the roughly 500 killings this year in Michoacan,
dozens have been police officers, including some who
were decapitated. Their heads were placed on public
display with ominous notes warning the same fate
awaited anyone who stands in the way.
"See. Hear. Shut Up. If you want to stay alive,"
read one note.
In the most gruesome case, gunmen burst into a
nightclub in the city of Uruapan and rolled five heads
onto the dance floor.
Whether Calderon's show of force is powerful enough
to really make a dent in the multi-billion dollar
business of these well-armed, well-established narco-traffickers
won't be known for awhile.
Calderon, who took office on Dec. 1, appointed
hardline Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna to
oversee the fight against organized crime.
Acuna warns the battle has just started and will
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox, in what he
called the "mother of all battles," sent thousands of
federal police to clean up the violent U.S. border
town of Nuevo Laredo. Drug-related killings have since
With files from the Associated Press