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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 11:49 UK

Mexico beefs up 'drug war' forces

Arrested suspected drugs boss Arnoldo Rueda 11 July 2009
The arrest of Arnoldo Rueda is thought to have sparked recent killings

Mexico's government is sending 5,500 police and military personnel to Michoacan state, which has seen a surge in violence linked to drug cartels.

Twenty police officers and troops have been killed in the state in suspected revenge attacks for the arrest of an alleged cartel boss last weekend.

Since 2006, more than 45,000 troops and tens of thousands of police have been deployed to tackle Mexican drug gangs.

The government said earlier that it would never negotiate with the gangs.

The statement came after a man man purporting to be a leader of La Familia cartel - the group that was blamed for the reprisal attacks against security forces in Michoacan - called a TV station to suggest a deal.

Late on Thursday Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont said the government was sending 1,500 police, 2,500 soldiers, and 1,500 navy personnel to the western state.

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

They will provide extra support for several hundred federal police officers already deployed in the state.

"For the members of these criminal groups, there is no alternative... but to obey the law," Mr Gomez Mont said.

In the worst recent incident in Michoacan and neighbouring states 12 officers were tortured and killed before their bodies were dumped in a heap by the side of a remote road.

Six police officers and two soldiers were killed in other attacks.

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

La Familia has extensive power in Michoacan, where it has infiltrated the police and the local political system, correspondents say.

President Felipe Calderon has vowed to continue his war against Mexico's drugs cartels.

More than 11,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since he took office in December 2006.

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