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Mexico's new attorney general reports increase in drug cartel activity now at 80

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Mexico's new Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam says that as many as 80 small and medium-size drug cartels are operating in the country. These figures, after former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's "war on drugs," that left countless thousands of people dead, is a number far higher than the last formal government assessment.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mexico says some 80 drug cartels at work in country, which is at least eight more from previous government figures. Karam's critique extended an attack by the new Mexican government on the security policy of Calderon, whose strategy focused on killing and capturing the heads of cartels.

The new administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto has blamed that strategy for splintering Mexico's relatively few large cartels into a larger number of more dangerous smaller to medium-sized organizations.

Karam told radio journalists that officials are now working to identify all the country's 60 to 80 small- and mid-size drug trafficking organizations. Just before Calderon departed office, his administration issued an August report naming only eight large drug organizations. At least one cartel, the Beltran Leyva group, had split into smaller fragments after a government offensive that killed its leader.

Elaborating on the new administration's critique of the Calderon strategy, Karam held it directly responsible for a rise in kidnappings and related crimes over the last six years.

"It led to the seconds-in-command, generally the most violent, the most capable of killing . starting to be empowered and generating their own groups, generating another type of crime - spawning kidnapping, extortion and protection rackets," he said.

Financial resources on security had more than doubled -- but crime had increased, and with the capture of dozens of drug capos, drug cartels had splintered and become more dangerous. That was the unfortunate analysis arrived at by Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong critique.

Calderon had reiterated before his departure that his forces had captured 25 of Mexico's 37 most-wanted drug lords, a strategy backed by the U.S. government with hundreds of millions in funding and close cooperation with American law-enforcement, military and intelligence agencies.

Bound and determined to turn over a new leaf, Osorio Chong and Pena Nieto have promised to adjust Calderon's strategy in order to move away from that focus on leaders and toward a focus on reducing crimes against ordinary citizens, most importantly homicides, kidnappings and extortion.

However - details on how they intend to achieve these goals within the past three weeks of the new administration have not been forthcoming.

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