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Mexican Government Fights Organized Crime


Despite recent setbacks and continuing violence, the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is continuing its war against organized crime, including drug cartels and kidnapping gangs. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, Texas, successes in the past few days have bolstered that effort.

The news out of Mexico in recent days has been dominated by incidents of violence and brutality, but authorities have scored some significant gains.

President Calderon has named a new Interior Minister to replace Juan Camilo Mourino, who died along with several other government officials in a plane crash in Mexico City on November 4. The new Minister is Fernando Francisco Gomez Mont, a lawyer and former legislator who belongs to the ruling National Action Party. His father was a founding member of the party.

Gomez Mont says he will carry on Mourino's work of pushing for judicial reforms and fighting crime.

He says he and President Calderon are committed to ridding Mexico of the violence that plagues the country and that he will use all of resources of the government to do so.

The installation of the new Interior Minister - one week after the death of his predecessor - is seen as a strong signal from President Calderon that his government will not pause in its struggle against the criminal elements who have terrorized large parts of the nation.

In the past few days authorities have broken up a kidnapping gang in the northern city of Monterrey, arrested policemen accused of corruption in the city of Tijuana and detained a group of men building a clandestine airstrip for drug smugglers in the Yucatan peninsula.

On Friday, Mexican forces made their largest seizure of illegal firearms and military-type weapons in more than 20 years. The Mexican Army found the cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and other items in a house in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Mexican authorities say most of the weapons used by criminal gangs are smuggled across the border from the United States, where it is legal to purchase many automatic weapons that are illegal for civilians to own in Mexico.

President Calderon's war against criminal gangs received strong support this week from Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who has had a great deal of experience fighting drug smugglers and drug-dealing leftist guerrillas in his country.

During a visit to Mexico, Uribe said he is confident that the Mexican war against criminal gangs will succeed. But Colombia counted on massive amounts of U.S. assistance in money, materiel and intelligence that would be difficult to duplicate in Mexico.

There are Mexican sensitivities over the nation's sovereignty that have often stood in the way of greater law enforcement cooperation. Another problem is that although President Bush agreed to provide Mexico with assistance under the Merida accord last year, his request was cut in half by the U.S. Congress.

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