Mexican drug trade worth $450 mn annually, says government

June 2nd, 2009 - 12:06 am ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, June 1 (EFE) The illegal drug trade in Mexico is worth $450 million annually, the government said in a report Monday.
The Public Safety Secretariat said drug cartels traffic around 500 tonnes of drugs, worth $450 million, in Mexico annually.

Since President Felipe Calderon took office on Dec 1, 2006, Mexican security forces have seized 28.4 tonnes of cocaine, 360.7 tonnes of marijuana, and 41.7 tonnes of pseudoephedrine, among other illegal substances, the secretariat said.

“Mexico has become a drug-consuming country, leading to a competition (between drug cartels) in the domestic market,” it said.

The report said the government has deployed additional forces to root out the flourishing drug trade in the country. Strict border monitoring, busting criminal networks and setting up of joint police-military checkpoints have been the government’s priority.

Around 337 suspected cartel members have been arrested since the government launched its operations against them.

The Norte del Valle group, considered one of the largest drug trafficking organisations in the world, has been accused of smuggling hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the US via Mexico.

Mexico has been plagued by drug-related violence in recent years, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces for control of the lucrative drug trade.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in drug related violence in 2008.

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