CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico is sending up to 5,000 new troops and federal police to the country's most violent city, where law and order is on the brink of collapse in a brutal war between drug gangs aided by corrupt police.
The army said on Thursday the new deployment could take the number of soldiers and federal police to over 7,000 in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. This month drug hitmen killed 250 people in Juarez, where a meeting of cabinet members on Wednesday was rattled by bomb scares.
In yesterday's meeting (government officials) talked about sending 5,000 troops and police to Ciudad Juarez, said army spokesman Enrique Torres. They are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.
At the heavily guarded meeting on Wednesday, Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont said the troop reinforcements would be notable but declined to give more details.
Torres said there were 2,020 troops and 425 federal police in Ciudad Juarez, a city of around 1.6 million people.
Drug trade analysts say those soldiers risk being overwhelmed by vicious drug gangs fighting over smuggling routes in league with corrupt city and state police.
President Felipe Calderon has sent out some 45,000 troops across Mexico to try and crush drug gangs but clashes between rival cartels and security forces killed around 6,000 people last year. The United States is concerned the violence could spill over the border, escalating the conflict.
Mexico's most-wanted fugitive, Joaquin Shorty Guzman, who leads a cartel from the Pacific state of Sinaloa, wants control of Ciudad Juarez, currently in the hands of local drug lord Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, to traffic drugs into Texas.
Law and order in Ciudad Juarez is close to collapse as Guzman's hitmen seek to destroy the Juarez cartel's entire operation, drug experts say, and kidnappings and extortions of business people are rampant.
(Reporting by Julian Cardona; additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Monterrey; editing by Bill Trott)