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Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 11:37 UK

Mexico rejects any drug gang deal

Coffins of the 12 police officers killed in Michoacan
The police officers' murder marked an escalation of violence

The Mexican government says it will never negotiate with drug gangs, after man purporting to be a leader of a violent cartel suggested a deal.

The man, who said he headed La Familia cartel, called a TV station in the state of Michoacan, to offer a pact.

Violence has flared over the past week, especially in Michoacan where 12 police officers were killed in an ambush.

Since 2006, President Felipe Calderon has sent more than 45,000 troops across Mexico to tackle the drug gangs.

"The federal government does not ever dialogue with, nor reach deals, nor negotiate with organised crime," said Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont.

"We will not give in to blackmail."

Mr Gomez Mont's comments came after a man called a local TV programme in Michoacan saying he was Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, a leader of La Familia, a drug cartel based in the state.

"What we want is peace and tranquillity. We want to achieve a national pact," he said.

Michoacan has seen a wave of attacks over the past week that left at least 18 federal agents and two soldiers dead. In the worst incident, 12 officers were tortured, killed and their bodies dumped by the side of the road.

LA FAMILIA
Previously believed to answer to Gulf Cartel, listed as separate group in March 2009 government report
Combines code of violence with idea of protecting people in Michoacan from outsiders
Also involved in counterfeiting, extortion, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution, protection rackets

Authorities believe the violence is in retaliation for recent arrests, including that of La Familia's operations chief Arnoldo Rueda last weekend.

The caller, in a rambling statement, said La Familia was only responding to attacks by the police and that investigators were coming to Michoacan to "fabricate charges" and "arrest innocent people".

He said: "We want the president, Mr Felipe Calderon, to know that we are not his enemies, that we value him, that we are conscientious people."

Officials have not commented on whether the caller appeared genuine. But Mr Gomez Mont insisted that the crackdown on the cartels would continue.

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