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

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

Almost 3,000 people, mostly drug gang members and police, have been killed in the past two years in escalating cartel wars across Mexico.
   
The conservative Calderon took office on December 1 and has vowed to stand up to the gangs, who are frequently better armed than local police and have de facto control of some coastal areas and parts of the US-Mexican border.
   
Drug gangs fighting for control of lucrative production and trafficking routes leave behind severed heads and mutilated corpses, reminding rival gangs and authorities who is in charge.
   
This weekend, troops captured several gang members in three separate raids in Michoacan. One involved a shootout.
    
Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine, amphetamines and heroin pass through Mexico en route to the US.
   
Vicente Fox, Calderon's predecessor, launched what he called the "mother of all battles" against cartels in early 2005, but failed to rein in the gangs.
   
Violence actually increased after he sent hundreds of troops and federal police to cities along the northern border.
   
Although the drug war is the most urgent and dangerous issue for Calderon, he must also handle protests from leftists who claim he stole the July election, and violence in the tourist city of Oaxaca, where activists trying to remove a state governor have repeatedly clashed with police.
   
Election observers found few anomalies with the vote, which Calderon won by a thin margin, but the new president is starting his six-year term questioned by millions of voters who back his defeated leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.