Face of Mexico's Drug War Dies in Crash

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MEXICO CITY - Mexican Secretary of the Interior Francisco Blake Mora, a leading figure in the country's bloody unpopular war on drug traffickers, died Friday in a helicopter crash on his way to a meeting of judicial officials. He was 45.

Blake Mora was Calderon's point man in the all-out military and law-enforcement push against traffickers, frequently traveling to violence-torn cities for meetings with besieged state and local security officials.

For many Mexicans, he embodied the government's get-tough attitude on the narcotics business, publicly pledging on many occasions to keep bringing the fight to the traffickers instead of backing down.

After Mexican investigators found more than 100 bodies in pits near the U.S. border, Blake pledged to step up the presence of troops and federal police in the area and not leave until the killers and drug gang members there were caught.

"Organized crime, in its desperation, resorts to committing atrocities that we can't and shouldn't tolerate as a government and as a society," Blake Mora said.

He later announced a five-point initiative to investigate the crimes and to increase security, including the federal monitoring of buses.

Blake Mora oversaw the government's response to natural disasters like the massive oil pipeline disaster that laid waste to parts of the central city of San Martin Texmelucan last year, killing at least 28 people.

Blake Mora led the creation of a new national identity card for youths under 18, with modern features including digitalized fingerprints and iris images, to prevent criminals from using false IDs.

He started his political career in the mid-1990s as an official in his native Tijuana and served as a federal congressman through the 2000s.

He was appointed secretary in July 2010. President Felipe Calderon lost another interior secretary, Juan Camilo Mourino, in a plane crash in Mexico City in November 2008.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Associated Press

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