(Reuters) - A four-year army crackdown in Mexico’s methamphetamine-producing heartland has provoked a dizzying increase in violence, fueling fears that the country is losing its battle against organized crime.
The following is a timeline of the most important developments in President Felipe Calderon’s battle with drug traffickers in western Michoacan state, where he launched Mexico’s war against the gangs in December 2006.
* December 2006 - Calderon, who hails from Michoacan, takes office and sends in some 5,000 troops into the state, focusing on the drug gang fiefdom of Apatzingan.
* December 2007 - Sergio Gomez, the lead singer of well-known Mexican band K-Paz de la Sierra is abducted and strangled to death, his body dumped outside of state capital Morelia.
* September 2008 - A grenade attack on an independence day celebration in the central plaza of Morelia kills eight people in one of the drug war’s worst attacks on civilians.
* December 2008 - Military arrests suspected La Familia cartel boss Alberto Espinoza Barron.
* April 2009 - Rafael Cedeno, who allegedly indoctrinated thousands of recruits into La Familia’s version of evangelical thought used to justify its grisly murder of rivals, is arrested at a baptism.
* May 2009 - Twenty-seven public officials in Michoacan, including 10 mayors, are arrested and accused of drug links in the biggest coordinated crackdown on elected officials during Calderon’s war. Judges throw out the charges in 2010.
* July 2009 - After the arrest of suspected La Familia leader Arnoldo Rueda Medina, 12 federal police are killed and stacked on the highway with a note daring feds “to come for another one of us.” Calderon sends in another 5,500 troops.
* April 2010 - Gunmen ambush state police chief Minerva Bautista, plugging her armored car with 1,700 rounds. She survives, but later resigns.
* June 2010 - Suspected drug gang gunmen attack a convoy of federal police, killing 10, on a highway near the town Zitacuaro in Michoacan.
* November 2010 - Banners appear across Michoacan, where La Familia apparently seeks a truce with the federal government.
Compiled by Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City; editing by Stacey Joyce