Mexican security forces have killed drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, one of the country's most wanted traffickers, in the biggest strike yet for President Felipe Calderon's drug war.
Here is a timeline of key events in Mexico's drug war.
2001 - Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman escapes from a Mexican prison in a laundry van. Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, he builds a coalition of drug gangs from the western state of Sinaloa and vows to take control of Mexico's vast drug trade.
2002 - Police weaken the Tijuana cartel by killing drug boss Ramon Arellano Felix and arresting one of his brothers.
2003 - Mexican soldiers capture Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas after a huge street shootout between troops and gunmen in the border city of Matamoros.
2004 - Trying to take advantage of Cardenas' arrest, Guzman sends well-armed enforcers to border cities just south of Texas to take over Gulf cartel smuggling routes. Heavy fighting breaks out before Guzman is eventually repelled.
2005 - Guzman seeks control of Tijuana and trafficking routes into California. Violence escalates across Mexico and about 1,500 people die in 2005.
2006 - Killings spread to the beach resort of Acapulco, the industrial city of Monterrey and Michoacan in western Mexico, the home state of President Felipe Calderon. The president takes office on Dec. 1 and sends troops and federal police to stem the violence in Michoacan. Deaths from drug violence rise to 2,300 and brutalities like beheadings and torture increase.
2007 - Calderon extradites Gulf cartel leader Cardenas to the United States and makes a historic 23-tonne cocaine seizure. U.S. President George W. Bush pledges $1.4 billion in drug-fighting gear and training for Mexico and Central America. Violence escalates and kills more than 3,000 in the year.
2008 - Guzman takes on the Juarez cartel in Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas, and the Mexican city becomes the bloodiest flash point in the drug war. Some 6,300 people are killed across Mexico this year.
2009 - Calderon sends 10,000 more troops to Ciudad Juarez but killings continue. Violence spills over the border into Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona state. President Barack Obama visits Mexico and vows to clamp down on smuggled U.S. guns that feed the violence. The drug war death toll soars above 7,000.
In December, an elite Navy squad tracks down and kills drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, head of the cartel of the same name and one of the country's most wanted traffickers. Six bodyguards also die in the late evening raid on a luxury apartment block in the southern city of Cuernavaca.
December 17, 2009
Timeline - Key events in Mexico's drug war