updated 12/11/2006 4:35:30 PM ET 2006-12-11T21:35:30

Mexico's new government, facing rampant drug trafficking and crime, ordered thousands of troops to the western state of Michoacan on Monday to fight drug cartels locked in a vicious turf war.

President Felipe Calderon's security cabinet said more than 5,000 soldiers and Marines would crack down on drug gangs in the state, a key air and sea transshipment point for U.S.-bound cocaine.

The cartels' battle in the once-tranquil state has killed hundreds of people this year, leaving a trail of severed heads and corpses as they fight for control of lucrative production and coastal trafficking routes.

"We will establish control points on highways and secondary roads to limit drug trafficking, along with raids and arrests," said Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna.

Ramirez Acuna said the soldiers, accompanied by federal police, would also search for and destroy drug plantations in the state, famous for poppy and marijuana production.

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