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Mexico plans to combat kidnappings

  • Story Highlights
  • Actions are aimed at helping families like that of businessman Alejandro Marti
  • Marti's son Fernando, his chauffeur and bodyguard were killed after kidnapping
  • Marti told group of leaders to do better job to protect other children like his son
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From Harris Whitbeck
CNN
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon met with the country's 32 governors Thursday to create a plan to combat the nation's staggering rise in crime and kidnappings.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has noted that kidnappings have reached an alarming level.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has noted that kidnappings have reached an alarming level.

In a heavily guarded meeting at Mexico's National Palace, the leaders devised a plan that detailed 65 specific actions to could be taken in the next several months.

Those actions are aimed at helping families like that of prominent businessman Alejandro Marti. He told the group that the new focus on kidnapping has come too late for his 14-year-old son, Fernando.

Fernando was grabbed from a car on a busy street at a fake police checkpoint this year. The next day, his chauffeur and bodyguard were found bound and strangled in the trunk of a car.

Next to their bodies, police found a yellow chrysanthemum, a calling card from a gang that calls itself the Band of Flowers.

Some investigators believed the flower was a coded message to police telling them not to investigate too closely, that the kidnappers were police, also.

In July, Fernando's decomposed and bullet-ridden body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car.

At least one police officer and one civilian have been taken into custody, accused of involvement in the kidnapping and killing, police and Alejandro Marti said.

Marti told the group of leaders to do a better job to protect other children like his son.

"There are university students who could do their jobs better than you can," Marti scolded the group.

To address the crime increase, Mexican leaders called Thursday for building special prisons exclusively for kidnappers, bolstering the justice system, cleaning up corrupt police forces, clamping down on kidnapping tools such as prepaid cell phones and money laundering.

Calderon noted at the meeting that kidnappings had reached an alarming level.

"The truth is we are all responsible," Calderon told the group. "We must recognize the traditional way of combating crime has not been sufficient. We must act in a more coordinated and vigorous manner."

According to official figures, there have been 314 kidnapping in Mexico this year. The numbers topped 700 in 2007. Authorities say the real figures may be even greater because victims often don't report crimes to a police force they don't trust. Experts say the rise is also a result of a perception sense that crimes go unpunished.

Non-governmental groups estimate that there have been more than 1,500 killings in Mexico this year linked to organized crime.

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The group of leaders pledged to implement changes within the next three months.

Activists said they hoped the one-day crime summit does not end up becoming just a photo-op.

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