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Mexican Leader Vows To Continue Drug War

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon warned Saturday that there would be "no truce and no quarter" in his war on drug gangs following the brazen killing of seven law enforcement officials in Acapulco in what appeared to be an attempt to intimidate the federal government.

Flanked by the commanders of the army, navy and air force, Calderon told troops at a military base that the government would not be strong-armed by organized crime.

"We are not going to surrender, neither from provocation nor attacks on the safety of Mexicans," Calderon said. "We will give no truce or quarter to the enemies of Mexico."

On Tuesday morning, about 16 armed assailants staged and videotaped simultaneous attacks against two offices of the state attorney general in Acapulco, slaying five agents and two secretaries.

The gunmen were dressed in military uniforms and pretended to be conducting a weapons check, asking the agents to hand over all their rifles before opening fire.

Police later found a note in a Suburban believed to be used in the attack with the defiant message: "We could give a damn about the federal government, and this is proof" -- an apparent reference to the shootings. The van was parked outside a house packed with automatic rifles and military uniforms.

Calderon, a career politician in the conservative National Action Party, narrowly won last year's election with promises to smash the drug gangs that killed more than 2,000 people in 2006, many in execution-style killings and gruesome beheadings.

Since taking power in December, the president has sent more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police officers to areas ravaged by drug violence, including 7,000 to Acapulco's Pacific state of Guerrero.

He has extradited four drug kingpin suspects to the United States, where they could be given life sentences in high security prisons.

"I instruct you to persevere until victory is achieved," he told the troops Saturday. "New pages of glory will be written."

Calderon's position has won him praise from the United States, with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency chief Karen Tandy describing his battle as "an enormous leap forward."

Lawmakers from the leftist Democratic Revolution Party have criticized Calderon's approach, saying the military solution will not stop the traffickers when their business is so lucrative.

Mexican drug gangs are believed to make more than $10 billion annually smuggling Mexican-made heroin, marijuana and amphetamines and Colombian ******* into the United States.

Democratic Revolution lawmakers helped draft a bill to legalize possession of small amounts of *******, heroin and marijuana, which Mexico's Congress approved last year. However, former President Vicente Fox refused to sign the bill after an outcry from U.S. officials.

Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Knight Ridder
Contact: letters@cctimes.com
Website: East Bay Times - Contra Costa and Alameda county news, sports, entertainment, lifestyle and commentary
 
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