In the violent Mexican state of Michoacán, drug cartels used strong arm tactics to influence last Sunday's state elections, one Mexican official said.
Juan Marcos Gutiérrez, the outgoing acting interior secretary, said that a drug cartel conducted "boldfaced interference" in last Sunday's elections and while not naming the gang, a single cartel, The Knights Templar, dominates most of Michoacán.
We will not permit criminals of any kind to interfere with our right to freely elect our representatives.
- Alejandro Poiré Intelligence Agency Chief
"We cannot allow this participation by organized crime to even start trying to influence (election) results," he said. "We have the obligation to bulletproof ourselves against this kind of bold-faced interference."
Gutierréz said traffickers tried to intimidate voters to cast ballots a certain way. He also referred to a local newspaper being forced to run an ad that threatened to kill anyone who voted for the mayor's party.
The mayor, like President Felipe Calderón, is a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Calderón's sister ran for governor in the Michoacán elections, but lost narrowly to the candidate of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Gutierrez called the threats and pressure used by traffickers "extremely worrisome."
Gutierréz served about a week as interim interior secretary, before handing over the post to Alejandro Poiré on Thursday. In Mexico, the interior department oversees domestic security and political negotiations with congress and also helps organize elections.
In a speech upon taking office, Poiré said, "We will not permit criminals of any kind to interfere with our right to freely elect our representatives."
Also Friday, the Mexican army said it had seized a $350,000 radio communications network that was purportedly operated by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Coahuila. The Defense Department said the system consisted of 122 radio sets, mostly hand-held, and was used by the Zetas to conduct internal communications and monitor law enforcement agencies.
The Mexican navy reported it had detained 14 alleged Zetas members in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where drug gang violence has worsened in recent months. The navy said the 14 were stopped late Wednesday in suspicious vehicles along a road.
The Veracruz state government reported that four people were killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers near the state capital. The statement did not say which law enforcement agency was involved or whether those killed in the confrontation belonged to any drug gang.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.