Page last updated at 02:08 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 03:08 UK

Mexico arrests mayors in drug war


Mexican police taking part in the operation

Mexican authorities have arrested 27 high-ranking officials suspected of collaborating with drug-trafficking gangs in the state of Michoacan.

They include 10 mayors, a judge and an aide to the governor of Michoacan.

The arrests come days after police detained several suspected members of the cartel, known as La Familia, which controls drug trafficking in the state.

President Felipe Calderon chose Michoacan state to launch his military offensive against the cartels in 2006.

Last year, the authorities arrested several high-ranking officials - including Mexico's former drugs czar - in connection with alleged links to the drug cartels.

But the latest of wave of arrests marks the first time the government has gone after such a large group of mayors.

Among those detained was the mayor of Uruapan, which made headlines early in the drug war in 2006 when hitmen dumped five human heads on the dance floor of a bar.

Local media report that among those held was Citlalli Fernandez, the state's former security chief who is currently employed as an adviser to the governor, Leonel Godoy.

The drugs trade in Michoacan is controlled by the La Familia cartel - considered to be one of the most violent drug gangs in Mexico.

President Calderon launched his nationwide crackdown on organised crime in 2006.

Since then, tens of thousands of troops have been deployed throughout the country to tackle the drugs-related violence which has claimed the lives of close to 9,000 people in the last two years.

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