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Mayor in Mexico's Michoacan state accused of kidnapping, extortion

The mayor of Lazaro Cardenas, a major commercial port city in Mexico's troubled Michoacan state, was arrested.

The mayor of Lazaro Cardenas, a major commercial port city in Mexico’s troubled Michoacan state, has been arrested and accused of kidnapping, extortion and links to organized crime, officials said Monday.

The arrest of Arquimides Oseguera was part of an effort to rid Michoacan state of drug lords and their suspected allies in state and local government. It came on the heels of the slaying or arrest of a number of leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel, and after the recent detention of Michoacan’s interior minister for questioning over suspected ties to narco groups.

Oseguera, a member of the liberal Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, took office in early 2012, according to Mexico City’s Reforma newspaper. His arrest was announced by the state prosecutor’s office and the head of the federal government’s special commission on Michoacan.

In recent months, federal forces have flooded Michoacan in an effort to break the Knights Templar's grip on the state and avoid a confrontation between the cartel and the so-called self-defense citizen militia movement that sprang up in opposition to it.

In November, federal troops and police took over the security functions at Lazaro Cardenas, the country’s second-busiest container port, from the municipal police in hope of stamping out the Knights Templar's use of the Pacific coast port for the import and export of illicit drugs, and shaking off the cartel's control of a significant chunk of the non-drug commerce in the city.

Arguing that they had brought Michoacan largely under control, federal officials reached an agreement April 14 with self-defense leaders calling on militia members to register their arms with the government and disband by May 10. That process kicked off Monday, officials said, with registration drives in numerous cities. News media reported that the process was going smoothly as of late afternoon.

richard.fausset@latimes.com

Twitter: @RichardFausset

Sanchez is a news assistant in The Times' Mexico City bureau.

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