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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 09:38 UK

Mexican head steps up drugs fight

Felipe Calderon, 30/09
Drug gangs have responded violently to Mr Calderon's crackdown

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has sent a security plan to Congress to fight the wave of drug-related violence that has claimed 3,000 lives this year.

The package includes a proposal to set up a department to monitor and tackle corruption among Mexican police.

Mr Calderon urged lawmakers to back his plans so "police can serve the people and not the criminals."

His call came as six bodies were found in the border town of Tijuana - a day after 16 corpses were uncovered.

President Calderon launched a nationwide battle to take back territory controlled by some of the world's most powerful drug gangs almost two years ago.

But the cartels have responded with unprecedented violence - including kidnappings and killings that have sparked public outrage and huge street protests.

The country has overtaken Colombia and Iraq for the number of kidnappings.

Lucrative smuggling route

In response, Mr Calderon has now announced a string of reforms which he says will reduce corruption among security forces and improve co-ordination among federal and local governments.

The measures include the creation of a national crime database and a crackdown on criminals who use police uniforms or badges - a relatively common practice in Mexico.

The proposals also call for an increase in penalties for dealing in drugs.

"Crimes like selling small amounts of drugs do not just cancel the future of our young people, but lead to social decline in communities, opening the door to illicit activities," Mr Calderon said in a televised address.

He called on Congress to move quickly to back his plan.

Mr Calderon's address came as Tijuana police discovered another eight bodies - all of them showing signs of torture.

On Monday morning 16 bodies were discovered in two patches of wasteland in separate parts of the city.

Most of them showed signs of having been bound and tortured and both sets of bodies had notes attached, suggesting they were victims of gang violence related to the drugs trade.

Tijuana is a key area for smugglers aiming to get drugs into the United States.


SEE ALSO
'Drug killings' hit Mexican city
30 Sep 08 |  Americas
Headless bodies found in Mexico
27 Aug 08 |  Americas
Mexico drug-related killings soar
24 May 08 |  Americas
Mexican gunmen kill drug patients
15 Aug 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
02 Sep 08 |  Country profiles

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