President targets Mexican drug cartels' finances

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The Independent US

Mexico pledged to step up its fight against powerful drug cartels yesterday by attacking the billions of dollars they earn each year.

President Felipe Calderon said he would send proposals to Congress that would ban cash purchases of real estate and make it easier for officials to seize property from drug cartels and their front companies. More than 28,000 people have died in drug violence in Mexico since Mr Calderon launched his war on cartels in late 2006.

This week Marines discovered 72 bodies, thought to be of central and South American immigrants headed for the US, on a remote Mexican ranch. Officials believe they were gunned down by one of the country's brutal drug gangs.

Mr Calderon said the measures would "hit criminals where it hurts the most, their finances".

Mexican cartels, which control most of the cocaine and methamphetamine smuggled into the US, bring an estimated $25bn (£16bn)-$40bn into Mexico from their global operations every year.