Mexico in new anti-drug military operation

2013-05-22 11:01
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Coalcoman - Mexico's government pledged on Tuesday to keep thousands of troops in the western state of Michoacan until peace is restored in this region tormented by violent drug cartels.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong held a meeting of the national security team in the state capital Morelia with local officials to discuss a crime wave that led some towns to create vigilante groups.

Officials said around 4 000 army soldiers and marines and 1 000 federal police officers were deployed on Monday. Osorio Chong said the forces would leave once security conditions have improved and the state government can hold its own.

"We are here with the goal of bringing peace back to Michoacan, but also with the commitment to help out and support public policies for the development of Michoacan," he told a news conference.

Michoacan was the first state to see troops when former president Felipe Calderon decided to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers across the country to crack down on drug cartels in 2006.

But gang violence surged throughout Mexico, leaving 70 000 people dead in its wake when Calderon left office in December, and a powerful new cartel, the Knights Templar, emerged in Michoacan.

Gang violence hot spot

Osorio Chong insisted that the strategy ordered by President Enrique Pena Nieto will be different than his predecessor's, with a single command, close co-ordination between various authorities, the use of intelligence, and a development programme.

Pena Nieto took office in December vowing to switch the focus toward reducing the levels of violence. He has since launched a crime prevention programme but he says troops will stay on the ground until the murder rate goes down.

Fed up with crime, vigilante groups have appeared in recent months and clashed with the Knights Templar cartel, notably in the Tierra Caliente region known as a hot spot of gang violence in the state of 4.3 million people.

The violence and checkpoints manned by gunmen scared off companies from delivering basic goods to some communities, but Defence Minister Salvador Cienfuegos said troops were freeing up roads to allow people, merchandise and vehicles to get through.

"To guarantee citizens' safety, we must have a presence and free them of this cancer, which is the criminal organisations that have gained strength in the region," General Cienfuegos said, adding that civilians would be allowed to carry weapons.

The minister said the troops did not encounter any vigilante groups, which he said may have left the area or kept their weapons at home.

Checkpoints

"This is a complex problem because there are those who are making an effort to protect the community and others who are backed, financed by other groups," Cienfuegos said.

AFP journalists encountered several military checkpoints during a drive across Michoacan.

But there were still road blocks manned by vigilante groups, with some members wearing blue shirts with the words "community police". A number of them wore masks and most were armed with rifles or handguns.

The Knights Templar say the self-defence groups are working for and getting weapons from a rival cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which is believed to be allied with the Sinaloa syndicate led by Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

The cartel cut off food deliveries to punish communities that created self-defence groups.

"Things are calm now because the military forces are here," Rafael Garcia, the mayor of the Tierra Caliente village of Coalcoman, said. "But this doesn't guarantee anything, because operations come and go."

Garcia said more than 200 residents of the farming community took up arms last week to fight off extortion. He insisted that vigilantes had the total support of most of the 9 500 inhabitants and that they won't put down their weapons unless the authorities provide proper security.

Drug gangs have existed for decades in this western state, where they grow marijuana and opium poppies and produce synthetic drugs in makeshift labs before shipping them to the United States.

"We have lived through 12 years of extortion, kidnappings, abuse against our women," Garcia said. "The people want those responsible to be arrested."

Read more on:    enrique pena nieto  |  mexico  |  narcotics  |  mexico drug war
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.