Mexican Troops: Port of Lazaro Cardenas Now Controlled by Military

Image: Mexican Troops:  Port of Lazaro Cardenas Now Controlled by Military

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 08:54 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Mexican troops stormed the port of Lazaro Cardenas on Monday, disarming and detaining the local police and replacing local port officials with the Mexican Navy in an attempt to end the violence, corruption and drug-trade that is rampant throughout the city.

The port of Lazaro Cardenas is located along the Pacific coast in the state of Michoacan and is the second most-used port in Mexico. The area is notorious for its violence; drug cartels and vigilante groups kill one another to gain power, CNN reported.

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Mexico's Army and federal police took control of the embattled city, and the Navy assumed control of the port, Government security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez confirmed Monday.

The objective of the operation is to "strengthen the rule of law, as well as the legality of the daily commercial activities of the port," Sanchez said.

As the military moved in, the city's entire police was disarmed and detained. All officers will be evaluated.

In the meantime, "The military will guarantee commerce, and will monitor fiscal obligations," Sanchez told reporters at a news conference.

For years, the drug cartel Knights Templar has reportedly terrorized Michoacan residents.

Recently the cartel expanded its operations in the region to include the trafficking and production of methamphetamine. The cartel is reportedly responsible for a series of attacks against local police and residents opposed to their operation. In the summer of 2013, 22 were killed by the group, officials say. 

George W. Grayson, a drug cartel expert and professor of government at the College of William & Mary called the region a "sewer of corruption and violence." Grayson said Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had few options other than the extreme measure he exercised to regain control over the violent, corrupt region.

Nieto, who assumed office in December 2012, has been critical of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, for his use of military force to combat violence against Mexico's powerful drug cartel.

Since late 2006, more than 60,000 people have been killed in Mexico in violence associated with the nation's drug cartels, the BBC reported.

The most violent regions in Mexico are those along the Pacific northeast that include Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Michoacan.

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