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Mexico offers $2 Million for Drug Lords

Mexico offers $2m for drug lords

Mexican soldier on anti-narcotics operation in Ciudad Juarez
Some 25,000 troops are battling the drug gangs nationwide

A reward of $2m (£1.37m) each will be paid to informers who help arrest Mexico's 24 most-wanted drug gang chiefs, the attorney general has said.

Correspondents say the most-wanted list is a public challenge to the cartels.

Some 8,000 people have died in the past two years, as drug gangs fight for territory amid government crackdowns.

US and Mexican agencies are increasing their co-operation as the gang violence spills over the border, where kidnaps and killings are on the rise.

The reward offer comes two days before a trip to Mexico by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a month before President Barack Obama is due to visit.

'Cartels splintering'

Washington is expected to confirm in the next few days that it will be deploying more federal agents along its border with Mexico - to tackle the increase in drug trafficking and related violence.

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The BBC's Matthew Price reports from Juarez, Mexico, on the drug violence

The drug gangs have splintered into six main cartels, under pressure from both the US and Mexican governments, according to the attorney general's office in Mexico.

For example, one gang once affiliated with the Sinaloa group under the Pacific cartel alliance was now listed as its own cartel, the office said, as was La Familia, which operates in central Mexico and was once considered a gang that answered to the Gulf cartel.

Among the men on the most-wanted list are the alleged head of the most powerful Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman, and the suspected heads of the La Familia and Los Zetas criminal groups.

Some of the men, such as Guzman and Ismael Zamabada, allegedly of the Pacific cartel, are also targeted by separate $5m (£3.43m) bounties from the US government.

The Mexican announcement offers "up to 30m pesos ($2m) to whomever provides information that is useful, true and leads to the location and arrest" of the listed traffickers.

While Mexico has offered rewards for the capture of drug lords in the past, this is the first concerted offer for all the most-wanted cartel members at once.

Published Monday, March 23, 2009 2:19 PM by Zinnia Q.

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