- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexican and U.S. military commanders on Monday were analyzing how to combat drug trafficking amid related violence that has claimed nearly 9,000 lives in Mexico since 2006, at a meeting near the U.S. border.

Meanwhile in London, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Monday he has ruled out joint raids with the United States aimed at stemming drug cartel violence along their border, but called for closer cooperation.

The commanders exchanged experiences in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora state, bordering Arizona, Mexico’s Defense Department said in a news release. The meetings end Thursday.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon wants the U.S. to share intelligence on traffickers and to provide police with high-tech surveillance equipment.

Drug violence has spiked since Calderon launched a national crackdown on organized crime in 2006. Cartels have unleashed unprecedented violence, battling soldiers and rivals.

In western Michoacan state, four police were kidnapped on Sunday shortly before midnight by gunmen and later killed, the state attorney general’s office said in a news release Monday.

Three other police officers were wounded by gunfire and one officer lost his leg when a grenade exploded in the shootout in the municipality of Buenavista.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Guerrero state, authorities found a human head near a federal police station in the municipality of Arcelia. Authorities are still searching for the body, according to state police.

In Mexico City, the federal Public Safety Department announced the opening of a “super-maximum” security prison to hold Mexico’s most dangerous criminals in Veracruz state.

Another prison will be built in Sinaloa state featuring a special section for kidnappers. Sinaloa is home to Mexico’s violent Sinaloa cartel.

Officials gave no further details on the prisons.

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