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Drug gang allegedly runs Mexican state

May 31, 2009 at 3:32 PM

LAZARO CARDNEAS, Mexico, May 31 (UPI) -- A new, violent and cult-like drug trafficking group has taken over the day-to-day political life of the Mexican state of Michoacan, residents allege.

Called La Familia Michoacana, the drug cartel can, at times, dictate who will run for office and frequently puts its own people up for election, which critics say is a perversion of democracy, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The newspaper said Mexican federal authorities last week arrested 10 Michoacan mayors and 20 other local officials as part of a drug probe, alleging La Familia has infiltrated many city halls as the state and country prepares for national contests on July 5.

Police say local leaders in Michoacan told them the slaying last week of congressional candidate Gustavo Bucio Rodriguez at his gas station was only a common crime. A few days before, former Lazaro Cardneas Mayor Nicolas Leon was tortured and shot to death, with a message of "FM" (Familia Michoacana) left on his body as a warning to rival drug gangs, the Times said.

"There are mayors and politicians who 'let things happen,' and there are some who have sold their soul to the devil," an unnamed Michoacan state official told the newspaper.

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