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<TD>A CABINET minister who led Mexico's fight against the drug cartels, his deputy and seven others died in a helicopter crash in the mountains west of Mexico City.
While one official aboard the craft had received death threats from a drug trafficker, authorities said the crash appeared to be an accident caused by poor visibility due to dense cloud cover.
The helicopter, carrying Public Safety Secretary Ramon Martin Huerta, Federal Preventive Police Chief Tomas Valencia, five other passengers and a crew of two, had taken off from a military parade ground in Mexico City.
The Bell 412 helicopter was heading to an event at the maximum-security La Palma prison, 35 miles west of Mexico City, when it was lost in dense fog and clouds.
"They all died in the line of duty," President Vicente Fox said.