Mexico City – Mexico's government has announced the launch of a security operation aimed at stanching organized crime-related violence in the Comarca Lagunera, a metropolitan area that straddles the northern states of Durango and Coahuila.
The "Safe Laguna" program is the third security plan launched this month by the federal government, following similar initiatives in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and the southern state of Guerrero.
The Comarca Lagunera metro area has seen an uptick in violent incidents attributed to clashes between rival gangs fighting over that strategic distribution center and transshipment point for illicit drugs, Government Secretary Francisco Blake said.
The city of Gomez Palacios in Durango and Torreon in Coahuila are the two main municipalities that make up the Comarca Lagunera, which is being fought over by Mexico's two most powerful drug cartels: the Sinaloa and Los Zetas mobs.
"The federal government will reinforce the coordinated operation (among state authorities) that has been organized in the Laguna to re-establish law and order," Blake said, adding that "there's no space for truces or hesitation."
The plan calls for a greater deployment of military units to combat cartel enforcers, as well as an intelligence operation coordinated by federal forces.
Durango Gov. Jorge Herrera expressed support for the military-based strategy of President Felipe Calderon, who has deployed tens of thousands of army soldiers and Federal Police to drug-war flashpoints since taking office in late 2006, and said his state will do all it can to ensure the new security plan works.
"Safe Laguna" is not the first security operation launched in Durango, Herrera said, noting that another successful three-month operation was implemented six months ago.
The country is experiencing levels of violent crime that would have been unimaginable until recently, but "Mexico is bigger than its problems" and will be able to find a "path to peace," Coahuila Gov.-elect Ruben Ignacio Moreira said, referring to the more than 40,000 drug-war-related deaths during Calderon's tenure.
Moreira, who will take office in just over a month, said he plans to launch a hundred-point initiative to recover security in the border state, including actions to promote education and fight drug addiction and other vices.
Presidential spokeswoman Alejandra Sota, for her part, touted the success obtained in the security operations launched in early October in Veracruz and Guerrero.
The number of weekly homicides fell 73 percent in Veracruz and 53 percent in Guerrero compared to the weeks prior to the launch of the security initiatives in those states, Sota said.
The operations also resulted in a large number of arrests of suspected criminals and the seizure of weapons and drug shipments, she added.
"The progress made in these operations is significant and the consolidation of those gains will depend on the efforts of (federal, state and local governments)," Sota said.