Earlier action 'would have resolved' Mexico's drug scourge
Mexico's criminal drug cartel problems would have been solved if the government had taken action earlier, the country's President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday.
"I am convinced that if the government had acted on all fronts, not only in fighting the criminals but also rebuilding institutions ... or creating special units to fight specific crimes such as kidnapping, the problem would already be resolved or at least not have assumed such proportions," he told the Spanish daily El Pais.
Since coming to power in December 2006, Calderon has launched an offensive against the drug cartels backed by 50,000 security forces.
In that time feuds between cartels and clashes with the police and army have left 34,600 dead, according to official figures.
"The fact is that when I took over the presidency I realised the enormous power that the criminals had acquired," Calderon said.
Today Mexico "is a country that works, and even in respect of the most serious issue concerning it, crime, it confronts it and fights it severely," he said.
On Saturday a senior Mexican customs official said seven armed men were killed in northeastern Nuevo Laredo on the US border in a shootout with the military.
Nuevo Laredo is the main ground transit point for illicit drugs between Mexico and the United States.
For more than a year it has been the scene of a wave of violence involving the two major drug syndicates, the Gulf and Zeta cartels.
Once united, they are led by former personnel from the Mexican army's elite unit.
© 2011 AFP