MEXICO CITY -- Federal officials used the word "historic" to describe the May 26 arrests of 28 local officials, including 10 mayors, in the western state of Michoacán. Those detained were allegedly linked to La Familia, a drug cartel known for running extortion rackets, producing methamphetamines and corrupting municipal governments.
Opposition politicians and some political observers, meanwhile, expressed disquiet with the arrests and questioned their timing. The sting operation -- which netted mayors from the three main parties, including a pair from President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) -- came barely five weeks before the July 5 midterm legislative elections. Critics also noted that the arrests took place in Calderón's home state, where the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) wields power and the president and the PAN have yet to establish an electoral powerbase.
Michoacán Gov. Leonel Godoy, of the PRD, objected to masked federal agents bursting unannounced into state government offices to arrest senior judicial advisers, calling it "a hostile act." He later claimed that the federal government never even gave him a courtesy call to inform him of the crackdown.