Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jul 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ken Ellingwood, Reporting from Mexico City
Note: Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City Bureau contributed to 
this report
Photo: The federal police officers found slain in Michoacan state, 11 
men and one woman, had been tortured and shot. [Quadratin]

Mexico Under Siege


Eleven men and one woman were found tortured and fatally shot Monday 
in Michoacan state. The drug cartel La Familia is blamed for the 
attack and several others in recent days.

By Ken Ellingwood, Reporting from Mexico City

Marking a gruesome new setback in the war on drug gangs, Mexican 
authorities said Tuesday that 12 people found tortured and fatally 
shot in the western state of Michoacan a night earlier were federal 
police officers.

Officials said the slayings were the work of La Familia, a 
Michoacan-based trafficking group that has carried out at least 10 
attacks against federal police in the state since Saturday, when 
authorities captured an alleged leader of the group.

Monte Alejandro Rubido, a senior federal security official, said the 
11 men and one woman were off duty when they were ambushed.

He said the killers left a message with the heap of bodies that 
threatened federal police.

Elsewhere, he said, authorities came upon two posters warning that 
police faced death if "they didn't leave or line up" with La Familia, 
a cult-like gang that U.S. officials say has fast become one of 
Mexico's strongest trafficking groups.

"The La Familia Michoacan cartel is known for its violence," Rubido 
said at a news conference.

"We shouldn't be surprised by this type of reaction," he said.

The officers' killings represent the government's worst loss of life 
in a single event since President Felipe Calderon declared an 
army-led crackdown against drug traffickers soon after taking office 
in December 2006. Eight federal police officers died in a shootout in 
the northwestern state of Sinaloa in May 2008.

Eight soldiers were found decapitated in Guerrero state, adjacent to 
Michoacan, in December.

The influence of drug gangs has seeped into politics in Michoacan, a 
scenic belt of forested mountains and coastline that is Calderon's 
home state. Federal authorities arrested 30 state and local officials 
for suspected drug ties in May.

Rubido alleged that the same La Familia cell involved in the attacks 
on the officers includes a newly elected congressman who is the half 
brother of Leonel Godoy, the leftist Michoacan governor, and another 
man who ran as a Green Party candidate for Congress.

Mexico's attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, met with Gov. Godoy 
on Tuesday in what was described as a work session.

The violence in Michoacan erupted after the arrest Saturday of 
Arnoldo Rueda Medina, who authorities say is a ranking operative in 
La Familia and a close aide to its founder, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez.

Gunmen carried out half a dozen attacks against federal forces around 
the state Saturday, killing five officers.

A federal officer also was killed Monday night when gunmen fired on a 
convoy of federal police heading toward the port city of Lazaro 
Cardenas. At least six officers were wounded, according to Mexican 
media reports.

Calderon says government pressure has pushed drug trafficking groups 
to lash out at authorities and one another. More than 11,000 people 
have died since the crackdown began.

"We cannot, we should not, we will not take one step backward in this 
matter," Calderon said Tuesday.

Mexicans seem skeptical. In a new poll, more than half of respondents 
said they believe the government is losing the war. Only 28% said it 
is winning, according to the survey, published Tuesday in the daily 
Milenio newspaper.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake