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Mexico minister who led anti-drug trafficking push killed in plane crash

[JURIST] Several members of the anti-drug trafficking force of Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official profile; BBC profile], including Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino Terrazo [official profile, in Spanish; BBC profile], were killed Tuesday when their airplane crashed in Mexico City. Former chief drug crimes prosecutor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, four Interior Secretariat employees, and three crew members were also killed as the plane crashed into a crowded street in the financial district of Mexico City, injuring at least 40 passers-by. Since Mourino's January appointment by Calderon, who called [press release] him "one of my closest collaborators and one of my dearest friends," Mourino had focused his efforts on combating Mexico's drug cartels [CRS backgrounder, PDF]. International media called the accident a major blow to Calderon's anti-drug campaign [Financial Times report]. Secretary of Communications and Transport Luis Tellez Kuenzler said that a full investigation would be undertaken [press release] to determine the cause of the crash, though there were no apparent signs of foul play. Bloomberg has more. El Universal has local coverage, in Spanish.

During his time in office, Mourino warned of the increasing power of Mexico's drug cartels, including their influence over some police forces. Last week, the Assistant Prosecutors Office Specializing in Organized Crime (SIEDO) [official website, in Spanish] announced that it had been infiltrated by a Mexican drug cartel [JURIST report], accusing several of its own federal investigators of receiving between $150,000 and $450,000 (USD) a month from the Sinaloa syndicate in exchange for confidential information. Last month, Mourino oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding [JURIST report] between Mexico and Cuba aimed at combating illegal immigration, human trafficking and smuggling between the two countries.

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