A truck clibs a road at a steel mine in the Aguililla community, in Michoacan State, Mexico, on Feb. 14, 2014
Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images
March 6, 2014 3:13 AM EST

Cracking down on a drug cartel smuggling iron ore to China, Mexican security officials have seized 119,000 tonnes of the mineral.

The operation was directed against the Knights Templar cartel in Mexico’s top iron ore-producing state Michoacán. Besides ore, officials seized 124 items of heavy machinery, closed 11 processing facilities and prepared to take action against five Chinese nationals working there.

A senior government figure told the Financial Times that mineral smuggling had become more profitable than drug running for the Knights Templar. Even though the government’s crackdown leaves the cartel unable to continue operations, he said there are “many” new cartels emerging.


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