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Mexican drug war deaths surpass 30,100

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mexico's attorney general says 12,456 people were killed in drug-related violence this year
  • Authorities have seized $11.2 billion worth of drugs during Calderon's term, he says
  • An intelligence analysis says takedowns of drug lords creates a power imbalance
  • This year's death toll in Ciudad Juarez has reached 3,000

Mexico City (CNN) -- More than 30,100 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on cartels, the country's attorney general said.

Armed with statistics about what he described as a "significant transformation" in Mexico's fight against organized crime, Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chavez Chavez said the importance of restoring the rule of law throughout the country was the driving force behind Calderon's initiative, which started shortly after he took office in December 2006.

"What is very clear is that there is an important weakening of criminal structures. ... There is no criminal organization that can be even remotely superior to the force of the state," Chavez told reporters at a year-end meeting Thursday.

Among the numbers cited, Chavez noted that authorities have seized about $11.2-billion worth of drugs and secured more than $420 million while clamping down on money laundering operations during Calderon's administration.

He said that 400 people had been extradited to other countries in the past four years.

Chavez outlined what he described as "three principle poles" of crime in Mexico -- the border city of Juarez, Calderon's home state of Michoacan and the border state of Tamaulipas.

Throughout the country, 12,456 people were killed in drug-related violence from January through November this year, he said, bringing the total number of deaths since December 2006 to 30,196, the state-run Notimex news agency reported.

A report released by the Stratfor global intelligence company this week said clashes between cartels in 2010 "have produced unprecedented levels of violence throughout the country."

Even the government's recent high-profile takedowns of drug lords have a cost, Stratfor's report said.

"Such operations have succeeded in eliminating several very dangerous people and disrupting their organizations, however, they have also served to further upset the balance of power among Mexico's criminal organizations," the report said. "This imbalance has increased the volatility of the country's security environment by creating a sort of vicious feeding frenzy among the various organizations as they seek to preserve their own turf or seize territory from rival organizations."

On Tuesday the year's death tally in Ciudad Juarez reached 3,000 -- 10 times the number of annual killings that the border city counted just a few years ago.

Cartel turf wars over drug smuggling territory in the area of the city -- located across the border from El Paso, Texas -- have intensified violence, Chavez said Thursday.

"They begin to clash and there are thousands of casualties," he said.

Earlier this week, signs hanging outside clinics there offered a less optimistic take on Mexico's drug war, as doctors stopped working for a day to demand that the government do more to improve security.

"Stop impunity," the banners said. "We demand justice."

CNN's Carloo Perez in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 
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