Six in 10 Mexicans say the government is losing the war on violent drug cartels, while just 20 percent believe the opposite to be true, according to a new survey by polling firm Mitofsky and the non-governmental organization Mexico United against Crime.

The 9th National Survey on the Perception of Citizen Insecurity found that three in 10 people think the situation will worsen in 2012, 40 percent thinks it will remain the same and only one in 10 is confident the government can win the drug war.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 21-24 in 1,000 households nationwide.

A total of 86 percent of the respondents proposed increasing the number of soldiers deployed to areas of the country hardest hit by cartel turf battles and clashes between the drug mobs and security forces, such as northern Mexico.

Four in 10 think U.S. agents should be allowed to operate in Mexican territory to combat the cartels and an equal number of those surveyed said they would be in favor of legalizing drugs.

President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the nation's well-funded, heavily armed drug gangs shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of federal police and army soldiers to drug-war flashpoints.

The strategy has led to headline-grabbing captures of cartel kingpins, but drug-related violence has skyrocketed and claimed nearly 50,000 lives nationwide over the five-year period

According to a leading international human rights group, the deployment of the military also has led to "widespread human rights violations."

"Instead of reducing violence, Mexico's 'war on drugs' has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.