(Updates with 2010 death toll in second paragraph.)
Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez said that 30,196 people have been killed in drug-related violence nationwide since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.
The number of deaths this year through the end of November was 12,456, Chavez said today in Mexico City. This year’s toll is the highest since Calderon took office, showing that violence is increasing instead of waning.
Calderon sent military troops to quell violence mostly in northern states and the western state of Michoacan shortly after taking office. While Calderon’s stance against drug traffickers has won praise from U.S. officials, the strategy has caused infighting within crime groups and between drug cartels.
In the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, a dispute between the Gulf Cartel and a former allied group known as the Zetas has sparked shootouts in the streets of Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest metropolitan area, and the abandonment of small Mexican cities near the Texas border, such as Mier. A feud between the Sinaloa cartel and the Juarez Cartel has made Ciudad Juarez the deadliest large city in Mexico.
Even with the escalating violence, Calderon, whose term ends in December 2012, has vowed to continue to target organized crime. The government has highlighted the capture of drug kingpins and hit men, including Edgar ‘La Barbie’ Valdez and Sergio ‘El Grande’ Villarreal and the deaths of Arturo Beltran and Ezequiel ‘Tony Tormenta’ Cardenas in the last year.
Last week, Nazario ‘El Chayo’ Moreno, a leader of Mexico’s La Familia drug cartel, was killed by authorities in Michoacan, according to Alejandro Poire, a government security spokesman. Moreno’s body hasn’t been recovered.
Authorities are seeking the arrest of Julio Cesar Godoy, a congressman with the Democratic Revolution Party who is accused of having ties with La Familia in his home state of Michoacan, Chavez said today. Godoy’s whereabouts are unknown, he said.
Legislators this week stripped Godoy of his immunity from prosecution after a recorded phone call of Godoy allegedly speaking with a La Familia member was made public. In a news conference on Sept. 23 Godoy said he is innocent and denied any ties to illegal groups.
The lower house of Congress yesterday passed legislation to help crack down on organized crime by stiffening jail sentences for the use of grenades or car bombs and making it a crime to hang banners with drug-cartel messages. Lawmakers have stopped short of approving other Calderon initiatives, including a measure to unify local police forces under state control to combat police corruption and help out-gunned rural forces.
--Editors: Bill Faries, Jonathan Roeder.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jens Erik Gould in Mexico City at email@example.com; Thomas Black in Monterrey at firstname.lastname@example.org
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