Secret raids ensnare 10 mayors in Mexico

Federal policemen in Mexico City escort a bus with arrested officials from Michoacan state Tuesday.
More than two dozen Mexican public servants, including 10 mayors and several police chiefs, allegedly linked to illicit drugs and organized crime were arrested in simultaneous raids in Michoacan state, its governor said.

The secrecy leading up to the arrests was so extensive, Gov. Leonel Godoy said, that even he did not know about them until after they began. A major drug cartel, the Michoacan Family, was a focus of the six-month investigation, a spokesman for the federal attorney general’s office said. “This is an effort to take apart the protection nets that were operating in coordination with the Michoacan Family, an effort to recover the geographical spaces lost to the hands of organized crime,” said Ricardo Najera. The Michoacan Family has been blamed for numerous acts of violence in the country, including the killings last September of seven people and the wounding of more than 100 others. Godoy expressed concern that the legal rights of those arrested may not have been observed. “We are finding out if they did this according to the constitution, because the fight against organized crime is a necessary one, but it’s necessary to see if they respected what they said,” Godoy said.

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The arrests in the Pacific coast state were made in the cities of Morelia, Uruapan, Tepalcatepec, Apatzing├ín, Buenavista and others, he added. In addition to the mayors and police chiefs, 17 current and former government officials, including five municipal presidents and two directors of municipal public security, were arrested, the government said on its Web site. The city of Morelia, site of numerous drug-turf battles is the birthplace of President Felipe Calderon. Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon has been waging a fierce battle against the nation’s well-entrenched drug interests that has left more than 10,000 people dead in its wake.