Mexico Govt Seizes Control of Anarchy-Ridden Port City

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 06:09 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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The Mexican government has dispatched federal police and soldiers to take over Lazaro Cardenas, a major Pacific Coast port city, in the wake of growing violence by drug gangs.
 
According to the Wall Street Journal, the government's move “underlines the deepening anarchy” in Michoacan state, where Lazaro Cardenas is located.
 
It follows an attack on 18 local power stations last month that knocked out power to nearly 500,000 people. Many residents suspect that drug traffickers were responsible for the sabotage.
 
Last month, suspected traffickers also attacked marchers protesting the violence as they marched on Apatzingán, a large city in the region, the Guardian reported.
 
Senior Mexican Navy officials will serve as captain and port manager of the city’s port, Mexico’s largest, while the federal police and the army will assume responsibility for security in Lazaro Cardenas, according to the Journal.
 
Members of the city police force will be disarmed while federal officials evaluate the situation, according to Eduardo Sanchez, a government spokesman.
 
Citing security concerns, Sanchez declined to say how many soldiers, sailors and police would be sent to Lazaro Cardenas or how long they would remain there.
 
Michoacán has seen violence soar since 2011 with citizens' self-defense groups — frustrated by the government’s failure to protect them from extortion at the hands of the Knights Templar drug gang, which is based there — have armed themselves and fought against the narcotics traffickers.
 
The Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation cartel and other criminal groups are also competing with the Knights Templar in the battle for control of Michoacan and Lazaro Cardenas.
 
"It's one hell of a message," said Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City security consultant. "Just two days ago, the government was saying it had things under control, and now this shows they don't have things under control.”
 
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