Mexican government crackdown on cartels as 5,500 troops descend on state at centre of drug war

More in the continuing collapse of the nation of Mexico.

Mexican government crackdown on cartels as 5,500 troops descend on state at centre of drug war

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 8:30 AM on 22nd July 2009

Thousands of heavily armed soldiers have been deployed in Mexico in the government’s latest efforts to crack down on the country’s drug war. Troops set up roadblocks on major highways in the western state of Michoacan on Saturday in response to a series of drug gang attacks on police. Armed with automatic weapons, soldiers wearing ski masks to shield their identities searched vehicles for signs of drug smuggling after the government ordered 5,500 troops to deploy to the area by land, sea and air in the marijuana-growing region, also the President’s home state.

Soldiers stand at attention before starting a military operation at the military base in Morelia

Horrific violence: Michoacan has become the epicentre of Mexico’s drug war, and residents in the regional capital Morelia told how local forces had reached their limits.


Soldiers stand at attention before starting a military operation at the military base in Morelia

Drug war: The Mexican government has deployed 5,500 troops to search the western state of Michoacan for signs of drug smuggling in response to a series of drug gang attacks on police

The surge, one of the biggest in the three-year drug war, came after drug gangs targeted federal police following the capture of a high-ranking member of the local La Familia cartel.

Last week members of the cartel dumped the tortured and blood-smeared bodies of 12 federal police in a heap by a remote highway – the latest victims in the violent war that has killed over 12,800 people since President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006.

A horrific film allegedly showing the policemen being stripped, beaten and executed was briefly posted on YouTube, the El Universal newspaper reported.

Soldiers stand at attention before starting a military operation at the military base in Morelia

Attacks: The surge is one of the biggest in the three-year drug war, and was launched after drug gangs targeted federal police following the capture of a high-ranking member of the local La Familia cartel

Ten municipal police officers from Michoacan were being held in custody on Saturday, suspected of collaborating with the cartel in the murders, the Mexican attorney general’s office said.

The state has become the epicentre of the country’s drug war, and residents in the regional capital Morelia told how local forces had reached their limits.

Last September suspected drug gang hit men threw two grenades into a packed crowd celebrating Mexico’s independence day.

‘We’ve reached a point where the local authorities are tapped out, and so unfortunately it’s necessary to call in extra forces to try and restore the peace to Michoacan,’ said Gerardo Gomez, a Morelia resident.