Page last updated at 05:14 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Profile: Juan Camilo Mourino

Mexican Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino, who has been killed in a plane crash, was the rising star of the country's political scene.

Juan Camilo Mourino, file image
Mr Mourino was known as the president's "strongman"

During his short tenure at the Interior Ministry, the 37-year-old became inextricably linked with Mexico's increasingly bitter battle with powerful drug cartels, presiding over a series of tough measures aimed at combating the trade.

He was known to have a close relationship with President Felipe Calderon - co-ordinating his election campaign and serving as the Chief of Presidency's Office from 2006 to 2008.

He earned the nickname of Calderon's strongman, and the president paid tribute to him as one of his best friends.

"With his death, Mexico has lost a great Mexican, intelligent, loyal and committed to his ideals and his country," Mr Calderon told a news conference.

"I ask all Mexicans that they don't allow any event, no matter how difficult or painful, to weaken them in the pursuit of a better Mexico."

Born in 1971 in the Spanish capital, Madrid, his family retains a high profile in Spain. His father, Carlos Mourino, is the president of the football club Celta Vigo.

Mr Mourino became a Mexican citizen at the age of 18 before studying economics at the University of Tampa in the US, and later specialising in finance at the University of Campeche in Mexico's south-east.

He was both a state and federal deputy in the state of Campeche.

But it was his close political relationship with Mr Calderon that thrust him to the summit of Mexican politics.

In January he was made interior minister and championed the battle with drug gangs determined to use Mexico's porous northern border as an entry point for their contraband to the US.

Despite his department deploying 36,000 extra troops and forming specialist units to combat the traffickers, killings and kidnappings have continued to soar.

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