Mon, Sep 03, 2012 - Page 7 News List

US$14.5bn lost by gangs in drugs war: Mexican president

AFP, MEXICO CITY

A woman is led from a crime scene on Wednesday in Monterrey, Mexico, where gunmen killed four people.

Photo: Reuters

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said on Saturday that his controversial war on drugs had cost criminal gangs US$14.5 billion as he submitted his administration’s last report to congress.

Calderon leaves office on Dec. 1 after a six-year term that has been overshadowed by his government’s struggle to tame drug-related violence that has left more than 50,000 people dead since 2006.

In his final report to the new congress, the conservative leader, who is limited to one term by law, focused on the capture of gang leaders and the massive seizures of cash and drugs.

“During this administration, the federal government was committed to returning peace and calm to Mexicans, as well as preventing violence and building the foundations of an authentic and lasting peace,” Calderon’s report said.

In the past six years, authorities have seized 114 tonnes of cocaine, nearly 11,000 tonnes of marijuana and more than 75 tonnes of methamphetamines.

More than 100,000 vehicles, 515 boats and 578 aircraft have been confiscated, along with more than US$1 billion in cash.

All these actions represented a loss of US$14.5 billion for the cartels, Calderon said. According to the public security ministry, the criminal organizations control a US$64 billion market.

Outside the congress, which opened its first session since July 1 elections, some 5,000 protesters demonstrated against Calderon’s security strategy.

The student movement #Yosoy132 submitted its own “counter-report” which read: “We have seen a cowardly president speak about courage while society contributed the dead, the displaced, the kidnapped and the ill-treated by the authorities.”

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