Calderon seeks aid of people against crime

MEXICO CITY — In unusually somber remarks, President Felipe Calderon told the Mexican people Wednesday that criminal organizations were seeking to topple the state, that violence was growing worse, kidnapping and extortion were rampant, and the government needs their help.

It was something that most Mexicans already knew.

"Their business is no longer just the trafficking of drugs," Calderon said. "Their business now is to dominate everyone else."

Calderon warned that criminal gangs were extorting citizens and businesses, demanding "war taxes" that allowed them to buy more-powerful weapons to overwhelm government forces.

A second car bomb exploded Thursday, this time in the parking lot of a police station near the state capital of Ciudad Victoria in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, where rival drug cartels are fighting over the billion-dollar trafficking routes into the United States. No one was injured in the blast.

Although the Mexican government and U.S. ambassador were wary of describing the first remote-controlled car bomb in Ciudad Juarez in July as an act of terrorism, officials appear to be changing their minds as more bombs are found.

"There are methods that are being used by criminals who have no scruples, who wish to intimidate, which of course seek to terrorize the people," said Interior Secretary Francisco Blake.

On Friday, emboldened criminal gangs hijacked tractor-trailers and erected a "narco-blockade" on a major highway in Monterrey that leads to the international airport. Dozens of flights were delayed or canceled.