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Mexican Authorities Arrest 46 Suspected Drug Gang Members

4:27 AM, May 29, 2011   |    comments
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-- Mexican authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of 46 suspected drug gang members in police operations across the country, with 36 of those arrested accused of being members of La Familia Michoacana and the remaining 10 part of the Zetas gang.

Mexico's Ministry of Public Security reported that the 36 suspected members of La Familia were arrested in the southern Mexican state Jalisco after police intelligence tracked the gang following a brazen attack on a federal police aircraft.

A land and air operation took place to capture the gang during a meeting they were having in the quiet village of Las Lomas. Upon arrival, police engaged in a shootout that killed 11 suspects and injured two police officers. Following the firefight, 36 members of the drug cartel were arrested.

Mexican authorities say the 36 men had been meeting to coordinate an attack on a rival criminal gang.

A huge haul of arms, some 21,000 rounds of ammunition and nearly 100 rifles and handguns, were seized at the scene.

The La Familia cartel has been weakened since a splintering off of its leadership in December 2010 saw the creation of spin-off drug gang "Los Caballeros Templarios". It is believed that at least 2,000 people have been displaced in southern Michoacan state due to factional fighting within the La Familia cartel.

"There have been over 600 members of La Familia detained by authorities in the last four years. With yesterday's operation, the number is now close to 700 members arrested from this criminal group. This is very relevant but, perhaps the most relevant is that the people who have been displaced by these criminals can now return to their communities," said Commissioner General of the Federal Police Facundo Rosas.

Authorities also on Saturday announced the arrest of 10 members of the notorious Zetas drug gang and the rescue of a kidnap victim in the tourist state of Quintana Roo. Federal Police said they seized a jeep and nearly 50 weapons at the scene.

"In another part of the country an operation took place in the state of Quintana Roo. The Federal Police have freed a person of 30 years who had been held prisoner by the gang since May 21. This operation arrested ten members of the criminal organization known as the Zetas, responsible for such offences as extortion, kidnappings and the sale of drugs," said Rosas.

Quintana Roo state is home to the tourist hotspot of Cancun, which attracts millions of U.S. and European tourists annually with its Caribbean beaches and proximity to Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Zetas, known for their brutality and blamed for some of the worst atrocities in Mexico's drug war, have been moving east towards the country's Caribbean resort cities such as Cancun, authorities say.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has staked his presidency on crushing drug gangs, whose turf wars and clashes with security forces have killed almost 40,000 people since he took power in 2006. His deployment of 70,000 troops and police has led to more violence.

CBS

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