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Ex-president floats cartel amnesty

Former president Vicente Fox has suggested that Mexican authorities consider calling on drug cartels for a truce and offering them amnesty, speaking out a day after an apparent cartel attack on a casino killed 52 people.

Mr Fox, who served from 2000 to 2006, has since advocated legalising drugs as a way to reduce violence.

At least 35,000 and as many as 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.

"I want to start a public debate on the following ideas ... call on the violent groups for a truce" and "evaluate the advisability of an amnesty law", Mr Fox said in a speech at an anti-crime event.

Last week, the attorney general of the violence-wracked southern state of Guerrero, Alberto Lopez Rosas, drew criticism when he called on cartels to establish a truce among themselves to prevent civilian casualties in their bloody turf battles.

Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire rejected that idea this week, saying the gangs must be arrested and disbanded.

"Regarding calls by authorities for the criminals to change their behaviour, I think it couldn't be clearer that peace is not going to be achieved by asking the criminals for something," Mr Poire said.

"Peace is going to be achieved by bringing the criminals to justice ... that their thinking will not be influenced by appealing to their interests by calling on them to change their ways, but by giving them no choice but to submit to the law and stop their crimes."

One of Mexico's newest drug cartels posted wanted banners for members of a rival cartel, asking the public for help in capturing "kidnappers and traitors to the nation" and promising punishment.

The banners were put up by the Knights Templar, which formed around March. The cartel is an offshoot of La Familia, a pseudo-religious gang based in the western state of Michoacan. Both cartels are now feuding.

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