Latin America & Caribbean

Third Mexican general detained over alleged drugs links

Mexican army
Image caption The Mexican army has been deployed to fight the drugs war in different Mexican states since 2006

A third Mexican general has been detained for alleged links with a drug trafficking cartel.

Gen Ricardo Escorcia Vargas was detained as part of an investigation into organised crime.

On Tuesday two other senior officers - Gen Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Gen Roberto Dawe Gonzalez - were put under house arrest in connection with the same allegations, which they deny.

They are suspected of involvement with the Beltran Leyva cartel.

The organisation has smuggled cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs into the United States.

But Mexico's powerful drug cartels have been under systematic attack since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on drugs six years ago.

The army has played a key role in that effort, with troops deployed across the country.

Drug-related violence since 2006 has killed more than 50,000 people in Mexico.

Strategic positions

The three generals detained this week have all occupied strategic posts in Mexico's anti-drugs effort.

Gen Angeles was assistant defence minister from 2006 to 2008, when he retired - a decision which surprised Mexican commentators.

Gen Dawe was the commander of an army division in Colima state, in Mexico's Pacific coast, an important trafficking route.

Gen Escorcia was in charge of the military in Morelos state, the command centre of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

A judge has put Gen Angeles and Gen Dawe under house arrest for 40 days, while the investigation proceeds.

A statement from the Attorney General's office says several witnesses have already testified against the generals.

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