Drug killings soar as Obama heads to Mexico summit

By : Julian Cardona
Date posted :2009-08-07 02:28:00

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican drug gangs are killing rivals in record numbers in a major setback for the government, which will seek more support from U.S. President Barack Obama when he visits the country this weekend.

Severed heads, burned bodies, daylight shootouts and dead children are daily fare from Mexico's Caribbean to its desert border with the United States, even as army generals pour soldiers and elite police onto city streets.

Last month was the deadliest month of President Felipe Calderon's nearly three-year army assault on powerful cartels across Mexico with 850 deaths, according to media tallies.

The death rate so far this year stands at around 4,000, about a third higher than in the same period in 2008 despite a brief lull earlier in the year.

Mexico has managed to disrupt cocaine supplies and make some major arrests but top barons are still at large and more than 13,000 people have died in drug violence since Calderon took office in December 2006.

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