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Mexico's Calderon takes drug war to his home state

First, corrupt police were targeted. Now, nearly 30 local officials in Michoacán have been arrested for alleged drug ties.

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When he first took office, Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a series of military-led initiatives to combat drug trafficking in the rugged hills of his home state of Michoacán.

Now, Michoacán is once again a key testing ground in this fight. Federal forces detained nearly 30 officials there Tuesday, including 10 mayors, for their alleged ties to drug traffickers. It is the largest sweep among the political class since Mr. Calderon took office in late 2006.

When sending some 45,000 military troops and federal forces throughout Mexico to battle drug traffickers that have taken control of towns throughout the country, Calderon also promised to root out corruption that in many cases allows traffickers to rule without consequence. Police officers at all levels have been at the center of that effort. But the arrest of local officials is an unprecedented step that most analysts say is crucial to winning this fight.

"What is significant about this is that it sends a very clearly message that not even elected officials are above the law," says Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, a Mexico expert in Washington at the consulting firm Peschard-Sverdrup & Associates.

From village mayors to high-ranking state officials

The operation in Michoacán, which comes ahead of important mid-term elections in July, involved 200 federal agents who stormed into the state attorney general's office in Morelia, as well as mayors' offices and police stations across the state. Others arrested include a judge and a former state police chief, who serves as an aide to the state's governor, according to the federal attorney's office.

In a press conference, Michoacán Gov. Leonel Godoy pointed out that those detained hail from a variety of political parties.


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