Gunmen abduct 27 in Mexican drug war

November 11th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, Nov 11 (IANS) In the latest incident of Mexico’s worsening law and order situation, armed militias linked with drug cartels have abducted 27 farmers in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, EFE reported Tuesday.State attorney general’s office said the farm workers were kidnapped in the early hours of Monday from a farm near state capital Culiacan by armed men in navy uniforms.

Witnesses said the armed gang arrived in a convoy of 15 large vans and woke up 100 farm workers from sleep, taking 27 hostage.

The incident has the hallmarks of what Mexicans call a “levanton,” or big lift - abduction carried out by a drug cartel or other organized-crime element in reprisal of an earlier action by other gangsters or police.

A levanton is characterized by the absence of ransom demands. In many cases, the captives are killed within days of the kidnapping.

Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007, and the toll this year is already at more than 4,300, according to media estimates.

Sinaloa, birthplace of the powerful drug cartel of the same name, is among the states that have suffered most in the ongoing war pitting rival criminal outfits against one another and against the security forces.

Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and federal police to nearly a dozen of Mexico’s 31 states in a bid to stem the violence.

But widespread corruption in police and security forces is a major obstacle in the governement’s fight against traffickers.

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