Clashes between police and drug gang leave 22 dead
22 people are reported to be dead in clashes which took place between the Mexican police and drug traffickers in six towns in Mexico’s Michoacan state yesterday.
Among the dead are two federal police officers and 20 presumed criminals. Furthermore, 15 people have been arrested after heavily armed men attacked the Mexican soldiers.
After yesterday’s bloodshed, Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, called a meeting of the national security team alongside local officials in the state capital, Morelia, to discuss the growing crime rate in the country.
In May, the Mexican government had deployed some 4,000 army soldiers and marines and 1,000 federal police officers in the western state to restore peace in the region and track down drug cartels.
Mr Chong said forces would leave “once security conditions have improved and the state government can hold on its own”.
Drug gangs have been known to exist in the western states of Mexico for decades. They are notorious for growing marijuana, opium poppies and synthetic drugs in makeshift labs before shipping them to the United States.
In 2006, former Mexican president Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers across the country to trace drug gangs. However, gang violence boomed, leaving 70,000 people in its wake when Calderon left office in December with a new and powerful cartel, the Knights Templar, emerging in Michoacan.
Yesterday, Mr Chong insisted that the strategy ordered by the current Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto will be different than his predecessor’s: with a single command, close co-ordination between authorities, greater use of intelligence assets and a development programme.