Mexico Drug Charges Against 7 Mayors, 20 Officials

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico levied organized crime and drug
charges Thursday against seven mayors, the former state attorney
general and 19 other officials in the western state of Michoacan
for allegedly aiding a drug cartel.

Three other mayors detained in raids across the state May 26
have not been charged, but will continue to be held pending
investigations, officials said.

The seven mayors are the largest group of Mexican elected
officials arrested on drug charges in recent memory. They and the
other suspects charged will be taken to a federal prison in the
Pacific coast state of Nayarit to await trial.

Federal Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora alleged the
officials charged Thursday helped the La Familia drug cartel.

"These 27 people took advantage of and misused their public
office to carry out acts that favored and helped the drug
trafficking activities of the criminal organization known as La
Familia," Medina-Mora said.

He did not provide details on the charges, but officials have
said the suspects allegedly leaked sensitive information to the
drug gang.

The mayors governed several mid-size cities in Michoacan, a
largely rural state that is home to the La Familia cartel.

Former state Attorney General Miguel Garcia Hurtado was among
those charged, as was an assistant prosecutor and other
high-ranking police and state officials.

On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters of the mayors and other
officials marched in Mexico City to demand their release.

Mexican drug cartels have long been known to bribe police, but
widespread links to elected officials, if proven, would appear to
mark an expansion of gang power.

In 2008, a Mexican court sentenced former Gov. Mario Villanueva
to 36 years in prison for aiding drug traffickers in the Caribbean
state of Quintana Roo while he governed the state in the 1990s.

Also Thursday, officials said they found three decapitated
bodies in the state of Sinaloa, which is a major focus in President
Felipe Calderon's battle to crush Mexico's drug gangs. Authorities
recently discovered a giant methamphetamine lab at a remote
mountaintop site in the northern state.

State prosecutor's office spokesman Martin Gastelum said the
bodies were found wrapped in blankets in the small town of
Ocorahui. Their heads were found in a bag along with a message from
the killers.

More than 10,800 people have been killed by drug violence in
Mexico since 2006.


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