Mexico Calls in Army as Drug War Escalates

President deploys 45,000 troops into major cities
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2009 8:44 AM CST
Soldiers look on while police and forensic workers load bodies onto a truck after a drug gang kidnapped and killed six people on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Mexican President Felipe Calderón yesterday defended his decision to deploy 45,000 troops in major cities in his fight against the drug cartels, reports the Washington Post. In a speech to the army, Calderón said the military would remain in place until it had regained control of the country's most violent regions; 650 Mexicans have died since the new year in drug violence.

This week alone a police chief in Ciudad Juarez was assassinated, and a gun battle between soldiers and drug traffickers, shown live on television, left five people dead in Reynosa. One minister in the Calderón government said Wednesday that the drug cartels have grown so powerful that, unless they were crushed, "the next president of the republic would be a narco-trafficker."