Mexico: 573 detained since 2006

MEXICO CITY: Mexico has detained 573 officials for suspected links to organized crime since President Felipe Calderon came to power in December 2006, the attorney general said Friday.

The government has arrested "573 public servants from the three levels of government" for suspected collaboration with criminal organizations, particularly drug cartels, Eduardo Medina Mora told a news conference.

More than half of those detained were municipal officials, with 155 at state level and 45 federal officials, the attorney general said, without indicating how many had been convicted.

Mexican security forces on Tuesday detained 29 officials, including 10 mayors and a judge, in a massive operation against organized crime in the western Michoacan state, two months ahead of mid-term elections.

The prosecutor's office on Friday said it sought preventative prison sentences for those detained in the raids across the state where Calderon first launched a military crackdown on drug traffickers more than two years ago.

Mexican police meanwhile detained five suspected drug traffickers from the powerful La Familia drug cartel -- the gang connected to the arrests, the public security ministry said Friday.

Federal police rounded up the suspects in a restaurant in southern Guerrero state, a statement said.

La Familia is based in Michoacan, which has seen some of Mexico's worst drug violence, and also operates in neighboring Guerrero as well as central, southern and western Mexico, according to the ministry.

The cartel "is above all permeating local police," Rodolfo Cruz Lopez, a police coordinator, said Friday.

"It is also starting to permeate higher levels."

More than 7,300 people have died since 2008 in Mexico in suspected drug violence amid a government crackdown involving more than 36,000 troops deployed across the country.