Pubdate: Sun, 18 Sep 2005
Source: Bradenton Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2005 Bradenton Herald
Author: Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


MEXICO CITY - Federal and local police swept across Michoacan on
Saturday hunting for the gunmen who assassinated the southern state's
head of public safety at a crowded restaurant during a birthday dinner.

Rogelio Zarazua Ortega, civilian overseer of Michoacan's police force,
was shot Friday night as he sat at a table with two dozen friends and
relatives. Also gunned down was one of Zarazua's bodyguards.

Federal officials said Saturday they believe the pair were the latest
victims in a war between the nation's two most powerful drug cartels
fighting each other and the police over lucrative trade in marijuana,
heroin and methamphetamine.

More than 215 killings have been carried out in Michoacan by the drug
gangs, officials say. Across Mexico, violence linked to cartels has
claimed more than 1,000 lives this year, with victims including the
police chief in Ciudad Juarez, who was murdered just hours after he
was sworn into office in June.

Witnesses said two hit men carried out the slayings Friday night in a
residential district of the state capital, Morelia. The men entered
the restaurant armed with AK-47 rifles, known here by the nickname
"the goat's horn," ("cuerno de chivo") for the distinctive shape of
their bullet clips.

Zarazua was shot at least a dozen times in the chest and neck,
according to local news reports.

Lazaro Cardenas Batel, the governor of Michoacan, arrived at the scene
shortly afterward, promising to bring the killers to justice.

Last week, Mexican President Vicente Fox sent army troops to help
patrol Acapulco, the largest city in Guerrero state, after a spate of
drug-related violence that has seen local police stations attacked at
least four times with hand grenades.

On Thursday, a police officer became the eighth officer murdered by
suspected drug cartel gunmen in Acapulco this year.

In Michoacan, the killing of Zarazua came after an especially bloody
week of suspected "narcoviolence" that saw at least 15 people murdered
in cities and towns across the state. 
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