Violence in Mexico has spiraled to unprecedented levels as the country's drug war claimed a record 69 lives in one day.

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Jan 13, 2010, 12:20:53 AM1/13/10
*Perilous Times*
Violence in Mexico has spiraled to unprecedented levels as the country's
drug war claimed a record 69 lives in one day.*

By Nick Allen in Los Angeles
Published: 6:47PM GMT 12 Jan 2010

The grim total included 26 deaths in Ciudad Juarez, the city on the US
border which is regarded as the front line in Mexico's fight against the
cartels. Several of the victims there were beheaded.

The raging battle between rival drug gangs also reached a gruesome new
low as a murder victim in the northern city of Los Mochis had his face
sliced off and stitched onto a football.

It was accompanied by a note which said: "Happy New Year, because it
will be your last". The torso and limbs of the victim, Hugo Hernandez,
36, had been cut into seven parts which were dumped separately along
with his skull.

In another shocking case the remains of a 41-year-old former police
officer were found hidden in two separate ice chests.

A total of 283 people are believed to have died in drug-related violence
in Mexico in the first 10 days of this year, which is more than double
the number during the same period in 2009.

In Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, there were 102
killings in the first 10 days of the year, compared to 46 in that period
last year. There were more than 2,500 victims in the city in the whole
of 2009.

The explosion in violence comes three years after President Felipe
Calder�n declared war on the drug cartels.

He has since deployed 50,000 troops in a nationwide crackdown but has
failed to stem the tide and 15,000 people have died since late 2006.

Last year was the bloodiest so far with more than 6,500 drug-related
killings, according to the San Diego-based Trans-Border Institute which
keeps death tallies.

Director David Shirk said: "It does appear that the violence has grown

However, the government has had recent successes against seven of the
eight major drug cartels.

The most high profile was the killing of cartel boss Arturo Beltran
Leyva in a firefight with the military south of Mexico City last month.

Another drug kingpin, Teodoro "El Teo" Garcia Simental, was arrested
this week in a fishing city on the Baja California peninsula.

Garcia Simental, who operated in the border city of Tijuana, was one of
Mexico�s most wanted drug lords who was notorious for beheading victims
and allegedly having bodies dissolved in acid.

Last year one of his aides, Santiago Meza Lopez, 45, was captured and
confessed to being his �soup master,� claiming to have dissolved 300
bodies in vats of chemicals.

The cartels are fighting for control of cocaine-smuggling routes from
Central America into the US, the world's top drug consumer, which has
pledged millions of dollars in aid to help combat the cartels.

Mr Shirk said the powerful Sinaloa cartel headed by billionaire Joaquin
"El Chapo" Guzm�n, which has so far been left relatively unscathed in
the drug war, may now become dominant and that could ultimately lead to
a fall in violence.

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