Troops Pour Into Mexican Town Besieged by Drug Violence

Created: 2013-05-23 19:50 EST

Category: World > South America

Residents of the drug-ravaged town of La Ruana lined the streets on Monday (May 20) to cheer the arrival of hundreds of soldiers.

They are part of a new military push to re-take towns in Mexico's methampetamine heartland of Michoacan, currently besieged by the notorious Knights Templar drug cartel.
According to local media, the Knights Templar has torched local business, blocked roads and cut off vital supply routes to residents.
After meeting with security officials in the state capital of Morelia on Tuesday (May 21), Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong told media the military offensive aims to bring peace to the people of violence-ravaged Michoacan.
[Miguel Osorio Chong, Mexican Interior Minister]: 
"We are certain, convinced that this operation will see improvements day by day and bring results. But the support of the Federal Government is not for - we are striving for the objective of bringing peace to the people of Michoacan but also the commitment of collaborating, supporting and backing up public policy for the development of Michoacan."
Upon taking office last year, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to take a new approach to fighting the country's brutal cartels by putting stress on reducing murder rates and drug-related crimes.
The cult-like Knights Templar cartel are blamed for the worst violence in Michoacan and are believed to be behind most of the drug-related murders in the state, including dozens of decapitated or dismembered victims.
[Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Defence Minister]: 
"Our main goal is to protect them (residents of La Ruana). If these (criminal) organizations who have isolated the region for a long time reappear, we need to carry out the strategy which is to face them and put them before the corresponding authorities. Our strategy is to guarantee security, so that daily life resumes for residents."
Michoacan is a major center for methamphetamine production.
Rival gangs are fighting over turf as they produce the drug in labs nestled among the poor state's rugged mountains.
President Pena Nieto is under pressure to bring an end to incessant drug violence that has killed some 70,000 people and and threatens to leave large swathes of the country under the control of warring cartels.
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