Mexico seizes ship carrying 68,000 tonnes of illegal iron

This March 12, 2014 photo shows a confiscated iron ore mining operation near the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas Police confiscated an iron ore mining operation belonging to a drugs cartel near Lazaro Cardenas in March

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Mexican authorities say they have seized a ship belonging to a drugs cartel which was carrying 68,000 tonnes of illegal iron ore.

The authorities were tipped off by an anonymous phone call after the ship left the port of Lazaro Cardenas.

The town's mayor was arrested on Tuesday over suspected links to drug traffickers.

Mexico has seized more than 200,000 tonnes of illegal iron ore in recent months, most of it on its way to China.

The ship, Jian Hua, was detained near the Pacific port of Manzanillo.

The company operating the ship now have 30 days to prove to authorities that the iron ore was extracted legally from Mexico.

Knights Templar cartel

Lazaro Cardenas is one of the main port cities on the Pacific coast and a drug-trafficking hotspot.

The city's mayor, Arquimedes Oseguera, is accused of having ties to the Knights Templar drugs cartel, which he denies.

The city's treasurer was also arrested on suspicion of having links to the group.

As well as smuggling iron ore, the Knights Templar are also one of the main suppliers of methamphetamines to the United States.

A federal police officer crosses a river on the outskirts of Arteaga during a search for Knights Templar leader Servando Gomez (26 April 2014) Federal police officers have been combing the area in their search for the Knights Templar leader

Police are searching for the leader of the group, Servando Gomez, in the mountains around the city.

Three of the cartel's top bosses have been killed or captured since the beginning of the year in a crackdown by the security forces.

Farmers in western Michoacan state have long complained about the power of the Knights Templar and the corrupt nature of local officials.

Many have joined "self-defence" groups which have taken control of a number of small towns in the state.

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