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Mexican Army Takes Over Michoacan State

By McCarton Ackerman 05/17/13

The President appoints an army general to take control of the drug cartel-ravaged region.

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The situation is grim in Michoacan.
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Mexico's army has taken control of the southwestern state of Michoacan, one of the most drug war-ravaged regions of the country. President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced that an army general, Alberto Reyes Vaca, will take over as the state's public security chief, overseeing military and police forces in an effort to tame violence in the region. According to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Vaca will have the power to control and coordinate state and federal police, as well as federal troops deployed in Michoacan. "There will be no public security secretary in any part of the republic who will have as much power as he has," said Chong in a radio interview. Michoacan has long been a hotbed of drug cartel violence; in recent months, "self-defense" groups, usually made up of armed masked men, have declared they are protecting their rural communities from the drug cartels. Residents in the city of La Ruana say that the Knights of Templar cartel has taken control of the area by cutting off supplies of food, gas, and medicines. And a month ago, in nearby Apatzingan, 10 farmers were killed by armed men, and residents say the government was doing little to help. Since taking office last year, Peña Nieto has vowed to shift away from the aggressive tactics of his predecessor Felipe Calderon; escalating violence resulted in more than 63,000 drug war deaths in Mexico under Calderon's leadership.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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