An additional 400 Federal Police officers have been deployed in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, bringing to 600 the number of officers sent to the area to fight drug traffickers, airport officials said.

The officers arrived at Francisco J. Mugica International Airport in the city of Alvaro Obregon at 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday aboard two Boeing 727s belonging to the federal law enforcement agency, airport officials told Efe.

The officers were taken to different locations in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, in buses escorted by armored vehicles.

The Federal Police plans to send more officers to the western state, with the total number possibly exceeding 1,000, Michoacan Government Secretary Jesus Reyna Garcia said.

Federal Police officers engaged cartel gunmen last Friday in at least 10 shootouts in Apatzingan, a city located in Michoacan's Tierra Caliente region and some 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) from Morelia.

Apatzingan is considered the main stronghold of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel.

Federal Police officers, with support from Black Hawk helicopters, battled cartel gunmen armed with fragmentation grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15 assault rifles and .50-caliber Barrett rifles capable of penetrating armor.

The shootouts, which spread to the neighboring cities of Buenavista, Paracuaro and Mugica, left at least eight gunmen and 11 Federal Police officers dead, a spokesman for the 43rd Military Zone said.

The Federal Police's mission is to arrest Caballeros Templarios leaders Dionisio Loya Plancarte, Enrique Plancarte Solis and Servando Gomez Martinez.

The three suspects are believed to be hiding in the mountains around Apatzingan.

The cartel responded by burning 40 vehicles on the Siglo XXI highway, which connects Morelia to the Pacific coast, and the Occidente highway, which links Mexico City to Michoacan and Jalisco state.

Los Caballeros Templarios was founded in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel and now controls drug trafficking in Michoacan.

The cartel controls the traffic in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs in the western state.

Michoacan has 270 kilometers (168 miles) of Pacific coastline, making it an ideal location for drug traffickers smuggling narcotics from South America into the United States. EFE