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Mexico president replaces attorney general in charge of anti-drug efforts

[JURIST] Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, in Spanish] on Monday accepted the resignation [text] of Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora [official profile], a key player in Mexico's efforts against drug cartels and drug-related violence. Medina Mora will be replaced by the former attorney general of a northern Mexican state, Arturo Chavez. In his address to the media, Calderon said:

Mr. Medina Mora's work has been instrumental in confiscating record amounts from criminals and in bringing many of the leaders of the main criminal organizations in Mexico to justice. His commitment was crucial to purging police and above all, ministerial corps through Operation Clean-Up. I would also like to highlight his role in promoting the laws that will enable us to create a new legal architecture to consolidate the Rule of Law, such as the Constitutional Reform of the Penal Justice System and the new Organic Law of the Attorney General's Office. I have asked [Media Mora] to continue contributing to the nation through the Mexican Foreign Service in a mission that will be announced in due course. Assistant Legal Attorney General and Head of Special Affairs Juan Miguel Alcantara will temporarily take over, guaranteeing the continuity of operations in the Attorney General's office and resolving the issues involved in it, in accordance with Article 89 of the Organic Law Regulations of the Attorney General's Office. I will propose the designation, according to Article 89, Section 9 of the Constitution, of Arturo Chavez, as the new Attorney General, whose nomination I will submit to Senate for approval.

Medina Mora had served in the position of attorney general for the past three years and had served during the prior administration as the head of Mexico's Centro de Investigacion y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) [official website, in Spanish], the equivalent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Medina Mora's resignation comes amid continued efforts to crack down on the Mexican drug cartels. Last month, 10 accused Mexican drug cartel leaders and 33 others were indicted [JURIST report] in New York and Chicago. In May, Mexican security forces arrested [JURIST report] 27 Mexican public officials on drug-related corruption charges. In April, the Mexican Senate passed an amendment [JURIST report] to the country's constitution that would permit the government to seize property from suspected drug traffickers and other criminals prior to conviction. Last November, Mexican authorities detained former Assistant Attorney General Noe Ramirez [JURIST report], accusing him of receiving monthly payments of $450,000 from the Pacifico drug cartel in exchange for confidential information regarding government anti-drug enforcement efforts. Also last year, reports indicated that both the Assistant Attorney General's Office Specializing in Organized Crime (SIEDO) and the US Embassy in Mexico had been infiltrated [JURIST report] by a branch of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which paid officials to turn over confidential information. The chief of Mexico's Federal Preventative Police resigned [JURIST report] in connection with the investigation.

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