Acting under pressure from journalists, federal prosecutors in Mexico announced today that more than 47,000 people had been killed in the drug war since President Felipe Calderón first used the Mexican military to combat the nation's feared drug cartels, according to the Associated Press.
The news came as the spectacular murders of two people, whose decapitated bodies were discovered at the entrance of a well-to-do shopping center in the capital, were widely attributed to a drug gang, according to the AP.
The latest figures were released after journalists threatened a freedom-of-information lawsuit to make them public.
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The office of Attorney General Marisela Morales said today in a statement that 47,515 drug-related killings had occurred between December of 2006, when Calderon first deployed the army in the drug war, and September of last year.
The numbers reveal that three quarters of all murders in Mexico are now drug-related.
While the figures for the first nine months of 2011 —12,903 people killed — represented an 11 percent increase over the same period in 2010, this was a proportionally smaller increase than had been seen in previous years.
"It's the first year [since 2006] that the homicide rate increase has been lower compared to previous years," announced Morales's office. (The increase from 2009 to 2010 had been a staggering 70 percent.)
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The bodies discovered today in Mexico were found in a burned, stolen SUV at the entrance of a shopping mall in the Santa Fe district, a commercial center and residential neighborhood for the wealthy. A threatening note signed "Mano con Ojos," or "Hand with Eyes," a drug gang once part of the Beltran Leyva cartel, was left with the bodies' heads, which were dumped nearby, according to the AP.
The victims, a man and a woman in their 30s, have not been identified.