Mexican government sends 6,500 federal forces to tackle drug violence, beheadings
Associated Press Writer
VENTA DE BRAVO, Mexico — Mexico's new president launched his first major offensive against drug gangs, sending more than 6,500 federal forces to his violence-plagued home state to crack down on turf wars that have left hundreds dead in a wave of execution-style killings and beheadings.
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.
President Felipe Calderon took office on Dec. 1 pledging a "battle" against crime, promising more funds for the army and law enforcement and appointing hard-line Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna to oversee the fight against organized crime.
Calderon vowed to smash the drug gangs, which have been blamed for more than 2,000 drug-related killings this year, including several police chiefs, journalists, town mayors and at least one judge.
"The battle against organized crime has just begun," Ramirez Acuna said Monday. "We are looking to take back the spaces that organized crime has seized."
The force of 4,260 soldiers, 1,054 sailors, 1,420 federal police agents and 50 specialized investigative federal agents will operate 19 planes, 38 helicopters, and four ships in Michoacan.
Similar past efforts have shown few permanent results.
Apparently. after Vincente Fox tried and failed to restore law and order to the area, Calderón has decided to get serious. On top of the firepower, Senor Acuña es muy mal hombre:
Ramírez Acuña, known for a "firm hand" on security issues but also accused of human rights violations, will be immediately responsible for finding a solution to six months of unrest in Oaxaca, where a large protest movement is demanding the ouster of the state´s governor. He will also be in charge of reaching out to opposition parties to seek support for Calderón´s reform agenda.Senor Acuña and President Calderón both better be bad hombres. This could get very ugly.
Many security experts say it will take more than just brute force to defeat the cartels, who are heavily armed, using rocket-propelled grenades and bazookas, and well-financed, making billions of dollars smuggling marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States.
I can hear the human rights groups already.
As Jalisco governor, Ramírez Acuña allegedly authorized the use of excessive force against anti-globalization protesters during a summit of Latin American and European leaders in Guada- lajara in 2004. Both national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, denounced what they said were arbitrary detentions and even torture of suspects.