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Old 09-07-09, 06:14 PM   #1
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Post Point man in Mexico's war on drug cartels resigns (AP)

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer Olga R. Rodriguez, Associated Press Writer – 55 mins ago

MEXICO CITY – Mexico's point man in the drug war resigned Monday in a Cabinet shakeup that raised questions on whether the government's strategy to crack down on brutal gangs will change course.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora did not give a reason for his resignation, saying only in his farewell speech that "we have done a lot to clean the house," referring to his efforts to combat rampant police and government corruption.

His resignation was one of three announced by President Felipe Calderon. Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cardenas and the director of the oil monopoly, Petroleos Mexicanos, Jesus Reyes Heroles, also gave up their posts.

Medina-Mora's campaign against corruption led to the arrest of several mayors and high-ranking law enforcement officials in the last year. Among them was his subordinate, former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was arrested for allegedly taking at least $450,000 from a member of a drug cartel in exchange for passing on information about police operations.

The attorney general was highly praised by U.S. law enforcement officials. A top U.S. police source in Mexico said there was no evidence Medina-Mora was involved in corruption. The official insisted on not being quoted by name for fear of being targeted by drug cartels.

Calderon named Medina-Mora to lead his drug war after taking office in December 2006, shortly before he launched his crackdown on organized crime by sending soldiers and federal police to Mexico's drug hotspots.

"His professionalism, his commitment and loyalty to Mexico have been crucial in pushing forward the modernization and the cleaning of the justice department and in hitting hard organized crime like we have done," Calderon said Monday.

Cabinet changes at midterm are not unusual in Mexico. Calderon, whose term runs to late 2012, gave no explanation for the three resignations, although there had been rumors for some time that Medina-Mora would be leaving. He will be assigned to an unspecified foreign post.

Calderon said he will nominate lawyer Arturo Chavez to replace Medina-Mora, saying Chavez "has wide experience in law and specifically in combatting organized crime." Chavez was not present at the ceremony and his nomination must be ratified by the Senate.

The president indicated the war on drug gangs won't stop. But the fight has drawn criticism, with 13,500 people killed in drug-related violence since the government offensive began, and some experts wondered if the government might be considering new approaches.

Jose Luis Pineyro, a drug expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said the departure of Medina-Mora could indicate some change in the government's tactics in the drug fight, which have sparked bloody reprisal attacks by cartels.

"Perhaps this change in the AG office could be an attempt to change the anti-crime strategy and adopt a tactic that a lot of my colleagues have suggested," Pineyro said. "As long as there is a lack of attention to attacking the financial nerve center and property of organized crime, you're not going to make progress."

Former top anti-drug prosecutor Samuel Gonzalez said that Medina-Mora's performance had been "average" and that "change was necessary."

At a ceremony announcing the Cabinet changes, Medina-Mora defended the drug war and predicted history would judge the tough approach as correct.

"The strategy for recovering the public's security and the tactic of changing the way things were have been correct," he said. "Progress has unquestionably been made. The historic decision to use all the power of the state to put a stop to the power of the criminal organizations was fundamental to ensure our future as a nation."

"History will have to recognize the correctness and valor of this decision," Medina-Mora added.

Medina-Mora was an outspoken critic of U.S. gun laws, which he argued make it easy for drug gangs to acquire weapons across the border. He called for more aggressive prosecutions of criminals who smuggle guns into Mexico, saying the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms doesn't protect them.

"The Second Amendment was not put there to arm foreign criminal groups," he told The Associated Press during an interview in February.

Old 09-07-09, 07:02 PM   #2
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Default Agriculture, Oil, and Drugs.

Thank goodness nothing major/important to Mexico was involved.

Old 09-08-09, 11:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Point man in Mexico's war on drug cartels resigns (AP)

It's possible that in the end, the Pemex shakeup may be as important as the drug czar change.
Old 09-08-09, 02:55 PM   #4
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Default Agriculture, Oil, Drugs...

...and now Secretary of Tourism.

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