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Mexico to boost security as president acknowledges drug cartel threat

Decision came days after the arrest of a senior staff member of the government accused of leaking President Fox’s travel itinerary to a drug cartel.

Mexican President Vicente Fox is under serious personal threat and decided to boost his security and bodyguard protection since one of his closest advisors was arrested last week accused of leaking his travel itinerary to a drug cartel. The situation is too delicate as Fox has declared an open war to narcotics traffickers and they have replied stepping up violence all across the country.

The Mexican Attorney General's Office has confirmed that Nahum Acosta, the official in charge of organizing President Vicente Fox's frequent official trips around the country, is accused of leaking details of the president's travel agenda to drug traffickers in Northern Mexico. Acosta was arrested in the Presidential Palace last week. He has worked in the travel office since 2001, and was a trusted senior member of staff.

The Acosta affair triggered a national debate over the security of the president, as authorities confirm they are ready to up the stake, cracking down even harder on the cartels. “We will convince them that this is a real challenge for us, and we are going to win the battle against drug trafficking within Mexico,” said Mr. Fox.

Official reports say that the Fox administration has arrested more drug cartel leaders than any previous government, following the president's campaign pledge to make the fight against narcotics traffickers his number one law and order priority.

All in all, the situation created around the Acosta affair benefits President Fox, who has lost the political initiative in the country to the leftist opposition. As economy does not revive and planned labour reforms spark angry protests, “the fight against the organized crime” looks like the only prominent asset Fox can use to guide his administration to a happy end in 2006.

Security is also a question that could unify Mexicans behind his conservative agenda, and if becomes a top priority for citizens, it could even lower electoral aspirations of the leftist opposition.  

To show action, Fox ordered the Army and Federal Police to take over operation of several key maximum security penitentiaries and split up their most dangerous inmates, sending them into separate facilities. He has also reinforced several beleaguered police forces on Mexico's border with the United States, where the cartels are particularly violent.


Photo: Mexico President Vicente Fox.

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