Mexican lawmaker stripped of immunity

"It has been decided that court proceedings can take place against public servant Julio Cesar Godoy Toscano," said chamber president Jorge Carlos Ramirez, after the resolution passed by a 384-2 vote yesterday.

The unprecedented move, according to the chamber's press office, comes amid a major government crackdown on drug traffickers and criminal gangs whose growing rivalry and bloodshed since 2006 have killed more than 28,000 people across the country.

Godoy, stepbrother to the governor of western Michoacan state, where La Familia drug cartel is headquartered, will now have to face criminal charges that he offered government protection to drug cartel members.

That is, if he turns up to be arrested. A member of the leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Godoy was elected to his seat in July 2009 and a few days later was charged by federal prosecutors of alleged dealings with drug traffickers.

He promptly disappeared from view, only to turn up in Congress in September, after eluding police checkpoints around the building, to be sworn in and benefit from immunity from prosecution as a member of Congress.

Godoy was nowhere to be seen in the National Assembly when he was stripped of his immunity yesterday.

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