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Drones, Black Hawks, cameras and 11000 police officers guarding Pan American Games in Mexico.

Pan American Games 2011 Inauguration in Guadalajara, Mexico.

MEXICO CITY — Friday was opening day for Mexico´s  first Pan American Games since 1975.  During the games,  athletes from across the Americas will be guarded by unmanned drones, infrared-equipped Black Hawk helicopters, hundreds of surveillance cameras and more than 11,000 police officers, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

It’s the first time in near 40 years that Mexico hosts the Pan American Games – a major multi-sport event held every four years – and the stakes are high, as the country is in a war against the drug cartels that keeps setting new thresholds for shocking violence. Nationwide, more than 40,000 people have died in drug violence since President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown on traffickers in 2006.

About 6,000 athletes from 42 countries will take part in the two-week event, which opened Friday with festivities in the host city of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest and other four other cities in the same state, Jalisco.

Guadalajara is not among the main hot spots for drug violence.  “Right now this is the safest city in Mexico and many other places in Latin America,” Guadalajara Mayor Aristoteles Sandoval said.

Violence in the area has risen since Mexican troops killed drug kingpin Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel during a raid last year in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan.