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Death Toll from Mexican Drug War Exceeds Prior Reports

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Recent reports based on confidential government data indicate that deaths resulting from the Mexican government's three-year attack against drug cartels far exceed previously cited estimates. The death toll from the soaring violence exceeds 22,000, well more than the figure of approximately 18,000 often used by Mexican media, the Los Angeles Times reported April 14.

The Mexican newspaper Reforma published the higher number of deaths and said it was based on a confidential file that Mexican security officials had shared with federal senators at a hearing. The nation's Interior Ministry has indicated plans to release the updated statistics formally to the public.

While Mexican President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on drug cartels since he took office in late 2006 has taken down some major drug figures, it has not stemmed violence in many parts of the country, including the ravaged Chihuahua region. 2009 marked the deadliest year in Calderon's drug-fighting campaign, with nearly 9,000 deaths. Nearly one-third of that number have died so far this year.

The president's effort has deployed more than 48,000 soldiers and several thousand federal police to fight drug activity along the U.S. border and in other areas. Most of the violence that has been reported involves fighting between rival drug trafficking organizations. 

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