With drug violence raging unchecked along the border with Texas and deep into Mexico’s heartland, President Felipe Calderon yesterday called for the country’s security forces and citizens to “close ranks” against its powerful criminal gangs, reports the Houston Chronicle. “It’s indeed possible to win the battle,” Calderon said. “But to achieve that, we must remain united. We must close ranks against criminality.” He announced that more than $600 million in federal funds would be channeled to local and state governments this year to help improve their police forces.
Calderon called for better training of police at the local, state, and federal levels; increased cooperation among the country’s police forces; and the creation of a system for citizens to inform on drug gangs operating in their communities. Despite the sending of thousands of police and soldiers to several violence-plagued areas last year, underworld rivalries killed more than 2,500 people across Mexico, about the same as in prior years. The Bush administration has proposed giving Mexico $1.4 billion over the next two or three years for additional Mexican military helicopters, drug-sniffing dogs, and telecommunications equipment. Traffickers control some local governments and receive protection from politicians. Local and state police have ranked high among casualties in the recent bloodshed. Much of the violence has occurred in Tamaulipas state, bordering South Texas from Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico.