Mexico touts progress against drug violence

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto touted Monday a sharp drop in drug-related murders, fewer kidnappings and a tougher crackdown on money laundering in his second state of the nation report.

Mexico City: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto touted Monday a sharp drop in drug-related murders, fewer kidnappings and a tougher crackdown on money laundering in his second state of the nation report.

Pena Nieto, who vowed to combat everyday violence plaguing Mexicans when he took office in December 2012, said homicides linked to organized crime dropped by 36 percent between September 2013 and July this year.

The number of kidnappings, which had soared to record numbers in the past year, fell by 6.8 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period in 2013.

More than 80,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug turf wars and battles with security forces since Pena Nieto`s predecessor Felipe Calderon deployed tens of thousands of troops to combat drug cartels in 2006.

But the figure could be higher, with the government saying last month that 22,000 people remain missing in the country. Analysts have also questioned the accuracy of the government`s homicide figures.

Pena Nieto has maintained troops in the streets, though his administration says it has implemented a strategy focused on increased use of intelligence and better coordination between local and federal authorities.

The president`s annual report says drones conducted 149 missions totalling 581 hours.

The government has also toughened laws against money laundering, seeking to hurt cartels where it hurts most, their coffers.

The report says $5.8 million in US denominations were seized between September 2013 and July this year, a 52.6 percent increase from the same period a year earlier.

Another 1.9 million in pesos ($145,000) were confiscated, 80.4 percent more than the previous period.

"These indicators confirm that the public justice and security policy is efficient and is producing results for Mexicans," the report says.

Pena Nieto will deliver a speech on his second annual report on Tuesday.

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