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Mexico President Appeals for Public Support in War on Drugs

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has urged his nation to support the government's war on drugs, calling it a fight for the nation's future.

In a nationally televised speech late Tuesday, Mr. Calderon pledged to continue his battle against drug cartels because, in his words "it is a fight that, together, Mexicans will win."

Mr. Calderon blamed growing drug use in the United States for the upsurge in violence in Mexico. Experts estimate that about 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States passes through Mexico.

The speech comes as a dramatic spike in drug-related violence has swept the country, with hundreds killed in recent days. On Monday, 10 federal police officers were killed in an ambush in the western state of Michoacan.

And Tuesday, Mexican troops killed 15 gunmen during a shootout in the southern state of Guerrero.

An estimated 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Calderon took office in December 2006.

Also on Tuesday, Mexico announced new controls on cash deposits of U.S. dollars in an effort to combat money laundering and crack down on cartels.

Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero outlined the plan, under which Mexicans with bank accounts will be able to deposit up to $4,000 in cash monthly through their financial institutions. Small business owners in tourist regions will have higher limits. Tourists and Mexicans without accounts will be limited to transactions of up to $1,500 per month.

Cordero says the move is consistent with a strategy to combat not only drug trafficking but organized crime.

Mexico's government estimates that about $10 billion of cash deposited per year into the nation's banks is of suspicious origin.