Mexico’s army tracks drug traffickers

The World

It’s early morning at this military base and special forces soldiers are getting their orders. Their commander says starting at 11, the first group will begin the mission and the second and third will block the exits. The Mexican Army Special Forces are preparing to head out on the streets to face a powerful cartel. The Special Forces recently captured the group’s alleged money launderer, while Mexico’s most wanted men have just been sentenced to jail. The Air Force is carrying soldiers to the mountainsides and valleys where fields of poppy and marijuana are easily seen from the sky. Once identified, soldiers spend weeks destroying those fields. Mexico used to be a halfway stop for drugs from South America and now it’s a production site. Heroin production in Mexico soared after the US invaded Afghanistan. Soldiers are cutting the stocks. The US credits the Mexican Army, saying eradication has cut supply and prices of the drugs are rising sharply in the US. People at the UN and elsewhere say the Army is doing work that the police should be doing. President Calderon says the Army’s role will be reduced once the police are purified. The General of the Army says the police will work together with the army in the future, but not today. President Calderon has sent 30,000 soldiers into the fields since he took power in 2006. this Colonel says if the Army leaves the fight, the drug trade will expand. Paying poor people who have few options but growing drugs is an important aspect of this fight. One intelligence officer says the work is complicated and getting people to switch sides can take years. this former US diplomat says Calderon’s motives are two-fold: trying to show the US that approving a military aid package would be worthwhile, while showing Mexican people that he’s serious about improving the country.

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