Mexican Congressman David Figueroa had survived two assassination tries when federal intelligence officials reported that another attempt soon would be made. Figueroa dropped out of the race for governor of Sonora state, and became the country’s new consul general in San Jose, Ca., McClatchy Newspapers report. His flight highlights an alarming trend in Mexico’s bloody war against drug traffickers: While drug cartels have long targeted local police officials, they’re now striking at higher-level ones, particularly those close to President Felipe Calderon, who’s made curbing the drug trade a central policy of his administration.
U.S. law-enforcement officials believe the recent killings are an effort to turn up the heat on Calderon, who’s undertaken the most concerted offensive against the drug cartels by a Mexican president. Since Calderon took office in December 2006, he’s undertaken a frontal assault on the drug gangs. He’s dispatched more than 40,000 soldiers all over Mexico to combat the gangs and has involved the military in other ways that none of his predecessors dared do. He’s extradited top drug lords to the U.S., surprising American officials, and promised to send others to the U.S. for prosecution.