Soldiers flood western Mexico to protect towns

COALCOMAN, Mexico – Mexico’s top security officials promised Tuesday that a new federal offensive to rescue towns besieged by the Knights Templar drug cartel in western Michoacan state would stay “until there is security and peace for all state residents.”

Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong and his national security team met with local officials in the state capital of Morelia at a time of escalating tensions in Michoacan, where communities mistrustful of state authorities have been creating their own vigilante forces for protection against the cartels.

But Osorio Chong provided few details or an explanation of how sending troops to Michoacan would work any better than it had in the past. Then President Felipe Calderon made the same move when he launched a nationwide offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.

“The difference is the strategy,” Osorio Chong said. “There will be a central command, close coordination between state and federal security … and a system of intelligence that will permit us to move forward.”

He did not answer when a reporter asked for specific dollar amounts or new programs behind the effort.