Mexican forces fight drug cartels

Members of the Mexican Navy patrol a highway in the Mexico State, near the capital Toluca, January 29, 2013.

Mexico has scrambled military forces into areas near its capital to counter crime and drug cartels as the government stems violence across the country.

Around 50 marines and police officers supervised a checkpoint merely two hours away from Mexico City to check vehicles for drugs or weapons, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Despite the military occupation in the Greater Mexico City, having a population of over 20 million people, people welcome the policing presence.

“It is really good that you are doing this operation. We really needed this,” a man with a wife and a baby told a marine armed with an M16 rifle as officers sifted through their taxi outside Toluca, the capital of Mexico State.

Authorities launched Operation Armor last week, where the government deployed 3,000 police officers, marines and soldiers in the Mexico State.

A recent battle between the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana and rival gang Guerreros Unidos in the area has pushed the state to enforce the counter action.

“The federal and state authorities acted rapidly and we will definitely prevent the state from being a place that criminal gangs or organized crime fight over,” Mexico State Governor Eruviel Avila Villegas said referring to the gang violence that he called a “sporadic” event.

Since mid-December the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has taken a harder stance against crime and drug cartels across the country after introducing the creation of a 10,000-strong national police force.

Since election in July 2012, Pena Nieto has been using the Mexican military to stage security operations until he has put the new national police force into action.