Mexico's President Feels 'Misunderstood' in Drug War

June 28, 2011 - 8:00 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he feels "misunderstood" in his government's fight against drug trafficking and crime.

Calderon told Milenio Television in an interview broadcast Tuesday that his conscience is clear despite mounting violence.

The president said he did what he had to do and cited some successes, such as the capture of 21 of the country's 37 top drug lords. But he said people need to see other types of accomplishments, such as "peace and quiet in their homes."

"I know that there is a misunderstanding. If we explained ourselves better, I think people would not just be more disposed to support (our policy), but we could move forward more rapidly," Calderon said.

He asserted that many people do support his strategy, though "perhaps silently."

Calderon said he plans to remain in Mexico after his term ends if security permits.

He deployed more than 40,000 soldiers and federal police to different drug hotspots in Mexico shortly after taking office in December 2006.

The struggle against and between drug gangs has claimed more than 35,000 lives since 2006, according to government figures. Others put the toll near 40,000.

On Tuesday, the Mexican army said its troops had found an underground methamphetamine lab in the western state of Sinaloa, the cradle for most of Mexico's drug lords.

Soldiers found trapdoors hidden by undergrowth in the town of San Antonio, near the state capital of Culiacan on Sunday, an army statement said.

The lab was inside a two-level bunker that was 33 feet (10 meters) deep and 40 feet (12 meters) long and included an elevator, a kitchen and several rooms.

The troops seized 570 pounds (260 kilograms) of methamphetamines, the army said.

"It was the first laboratory with such infrastructure that has been seized," the statement said.

It didn't mention any arrests or say what drug cartel used the lab.