MEXICO CITY — As he nears the end of his six-year term, Mexican President Felipe Calderon leaves his country with a better-armored economy – and also more armored cars.

Calderon delivered his final state-of-the-nation speech on Monday, trying to cement his legacy as the president who stabilized the economy and took on the country's entrenched organized crime groups, putting Mexico on the road to rule of law.

He boasted of expanding and cleaning up the federal police, putting nearly $160 billion in international reserves and creating more than 2 million jobs, twice the number during the term of his predecessor, Vicente Fox.

"It's been our generation's job to assume the costs and risks of making urgent changes in politics and security," he said in the speech at the National Palace. "The reform has begun to bear fruit, but real results will only be seen in the future."

Still, the short-term verdict on the Calderon administration is decidedly mixed, starting with the fact that violence-weary voters in the July national elections were so weary of his tenure that they kicked his party out of the presidency and brought back the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

"Mexico is a long way from having strong rule of law still, and a solid economic base has not necessarily led to the kind of jobs that people hope to have," added Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "It's a well-managed economy but it's not a dynamic economy. And that's the legacy."

The sale of armored vehicles in Mexico has at least doubled since Calderon took office and the homicide rate has soared, with decapitations and mass slayings so common they often no longer make the front pages of national newspapers – and with local papers often too intimidated to cover them at all.

Government statistics show 21,500 homicides in the first half of 2012, compared to about 25,000 for the entire year of 2007, Calderon's first full year in office.

No one knows if drug slayings have tapered in the last few months, as his administration claims, because the government stopped providing the official statistics a year ago. Public corruption persists and the economy for everyday Mexicans is sluggish.

Mexico's president is limited to one six-year term and Calderon's will end Dec. 1, when President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto takes office in what was once considered Calderon's worst nightmare, handing the country back to the party that was kicked out of power in 2000 after years of rule, often by coercion and corruption.

Calderon has said he learned to fight the PRI at the knee of his father, a founder of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, and he openly criticized the rival party before the election for its history of suppressing dissent. Other members of the PAN openly accused the PRI of making pacts with drug traffickers.

Calderon's criticisms have been more muted since Pena Nieto's victory, and on Monday he congratulated the president-elect and urged all Mexicans to unite behind him.

"Above all differences, it is essential that we support him," he said.

Calderon acknowledged during the speech that mistakes have been made in his government's fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, but he said the effort helped to prevent criminals from taking control of the country.

He defended his security strategy that largely has relied on unprecedented deployment of troops across the country.

In terms of security, his report said Mexico has made its largest security investment in its history, allowing the federal police force to be purged of bad officers. He boasted of reformed laws to better coordinate security operations and noted that federal forces have captured or killed 22 of the country's 37 most-wanted drug traffickers.

Calderon praised the transformation of the federal police, which he said has grown from 6,500 officers to 37,000 during his term, including 8,600 college graduates – a reform forced by the repeated failure of similar overhauls of earlier police agencies.

The federal Public Safety Department, which oversees federal police officers, and the Attorney General's Office have vetted 100 percent of their agents with background checks, he added.

But the reputation of the federal police also has been battered. Two weeks ago, federal police ambushed a U.S. Embassy vehicle, injuring two CIA agents working with a Mexican Navy captain. The federal agents said they were investigating a kidnapping when the opened fire on the armored SUV.

In June, two federal police officers fatally shot three colleagues at Mexico City's airport. Authorities said the shooters were part of a trafficking ring that flew in cocaine from Peru. Mexico announced this month that it was replacing 348 federal police assigned to security details at the airport in an effort to quash drug trafficking through the terminal.

Last year, a businessman from Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, accused a group of 10 federal police officers of beating him, torturing him and demanding money. He was stabbed to death a day before he was to attend a judicial hearing on his accusations against the officers.

Just last week, 10 more federal police were arrested for trying to extort a businesswoman in Morelos state south of Mexico City, an incident she captured on tape.

"There have been many problems with restructuring the federal police because they haven't eradicated corruption," said Raul Benitez, an expert on security at Mexico's National Autonomous University. "The adaption of the armed forces to fighting drug trafficking has been slow and difficult, and they haven't been able to resolve the human right violations."

Local and state police departments have only vetted 45 percent of their officers through July, with evaluations pending for more than 239,000 officers, Calderon's report notes.

Thousands of officers, including entire forces at times, have been fired, detained or placed under investigation for allegedly aiding drug gangs.

Meanwhile, prosecutions of major, highly publicized crimes are still pending, including that of a casino attack a year ago in the northern city of Monterrey that killed 52 people, mostly innocent gamblers, and an attack that killed a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent, who was ambushed by an alleged groups of Zetas also last year.

Under Calderon, the Attorney General's Office has made high-profile arrests for drug-trafficking, public corruption and illegal arms possession, only later to release the accused for lack of evidence.

Military generals and court officials have been accused in recent months of aiding both the Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva cartels.

Calderon sharply escalated an armed offensive against drug traffickers when he took office in December 2006 and made the battle his top priority. More than 47,000 people had been killed in drug violence since then and through September 2011, the last time the government released official figures.

The government says it has weakened criminal organizations by confiscating $14.5 billion in assets, including $1 billion in cash from drug gangs.

Authorities have confiscated more than 114 metric tons of cocaine, 11,000 metric tons of marijuana and 75 metric tons of methamphetamines since 2006. Authorities also seized nearly 154,000 weapons, the report said.

Calderon's report said the economy is "in a phase of growth" thanks to responsible public finances.

He also said foreign direct investment totaled $126 billion during his administration.

"This reflects the growing dynamism and competitiveness of our economy," the report said.

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Worst atrocities in Mexico's drug war (captions courtesy of Reuters):
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  • May 13, 2012

    Suspected drug gang hitmen dumped 49 mutilated bodies, stuffed in bags, on a highway outside the northern industrial city of Monterrey. <em>Caption: Federal police stand guard on a vehicle behind a forensic truck containing bodies found on the highway connecting the northern Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the U.S. border, along the Reynosa-Cadereyta road, in the town of San Juan near the city of Monterrey, Mexico, Sunday, May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)</em>

  • May 4, 2012

    The bodies of nine people were found hanging from a bridge and 14 others found dismembered in the city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the U.S. border from Laredo, in Texas. <em>Caption: Four of nine corpses are seen hanging from a bridge in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, early morning on May 4, 2012. (RAUL LLAMAS/AFP/GettyImages)</em>

  • Feb 19, 2012

    A fight between rival gangs at a prison just outside Monterrey in northern Mexico leaves 44 dead. <em>Caption: Araceli Guevara Ontiveros, the sister of Francisco Guevara Ontiveros --one of the 44 dead in a riot at The Apodaca prison-- is comforted while crying on his coffin during his wake in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, on February 21, 2012. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Nov 24, 2011

    More than 20 bodies are found in cars in Mexico's second city, Guadalajara, a day after the burned bodies of 16 people are found in the home state of the country's powerful drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. <em>Caption: A member of the forensic service carries one of the 26 corpses found this morning in three vehicles abandoned in Mexico's second most populous city of Guadalajara, Mexico, on November 24, 2011. (HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Oct 6, 2011

    Mexican security forces find 32 bodies at several locations around Veracruz, just two days after the government unveiled a plan to bolster security in Veracruz state. <em>Caption: Mexican army soldiers walk towards their vehicle after seven bodies were found inside a vehicle in the Gulf port city of Veracruz, Mexico, late Friday Oct. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)</em>

  • Sept 20, 2011

    Thirty-five bodies are found abandoned in two trucks on an underpass in the eastern Gulf city of Veracruz, which had been largely untouched by the violence. <em>Caption: Mexican marines stand guard in streets of Veracruz State, Mexico on 24 January 2012. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Aug 25, 2011

    Masked gunmen torch a casino in Monterrey, killing 52 people, most of them women. The attack takes less than three minutes. <em>Caption: Relatives of victims cry in front of the Casino Royale, in Monterrey, Mexico, on August 27, 2011. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Aug 20, 2011

    Five headless bodies were found in Acapulco, taking the number of people killed in the popular Pacific resort to at least 25 in that one week. <em>Caption: Forensic personnel move the corpse of a person murdered in a hotel at the La Guinea neighbordhood in the town of Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico on August 24, 2011. (Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • April 2011

    Officials unearthed the first of what turned out to be more than 450 bodies buried in mass graves in the northern states of Durango and Tamaulipas. <em>Caption: Forensic personnel unload at the morgue bodies of people killed execution-style in Matamoros, Tamaulipas State, Mexico, on April, 11, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Aug 25, 2010

    Marines found the bodies of 58 men and 14 women at a ranch near the Gulf of Mexico in Tamaulipas state, 90 miles from the Texas border, after a firefight with drug hitmen in which three gunmen and a marine died. <em>Caption: A worker wearing protective suit and boots walks between two refrigerated trucks parked outside a funeral home where the bodies of 72 men and women that were allegedly killed by the Zetas drug gang, are kept in San Fernando, just 100 miles from the the Mexican border with the U.S. near the city of Matamoros, Thursday Aug. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)</em>

  • July 24, 2010

    Police unearthed 51 bodies in a grave outside Mexico's business capital, Monterrey, in northern Mexico over several days. Some corpses were burned beyond recognition. <em>Caption: View of the remains of two burnt bodies found in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, on October 20, 2010. The bodies were found under burnt wooden pallets. (Dario Leon/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • July 18, 2010

    Gunmen burst into a birthday party in the northern city of Torreon, using automatic weapons to kill 17 party-goers and wound 18 others. Mexican authorities said later those responsible were incarcerated cartel hitmen let out of jail by corrupt officials. The killers allegedly borrowed weapons and vehicles from prison guards and later returned to their cells. <em>Caption: Police officers patrol a street in Torreon, in the Mexican northern state of Coahuila, Monday, July 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Ramon Sotomayor)</em>

  • June 28, 2010

    Suspected cartel gunmen shot and killed a popular gubernatorial candidate in the northern state of Tamaulipas in the worst cartel attack on a politician to date. Rodolfo Torre, 46, and four aides from the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, were ambushed on their way to a campaign event for the July 4 state election. <em>Caption: A billboard with the portrait of the candidate for Governor of Tamaulipas state for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Rodolfo Torre, and reading 'A leader forever' is seen during his funeral at the Polyforum in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on June 29, 2010. (LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • March 13, 2010

    Hitmen killed three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez in March, provoking "outrage" from U.S. President Barack Obama. <em>Caption:The U.S. national flag flutters at half-mast at the entrance of the consulate of the United States in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on March 15, 2010. (Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Jan 31, 2010

    Suspected cartel assailants killed 13 high school students and two adults at a party in Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas. <em>Caption: Students enter a high school in Ciudad Juarez, a city ridden by homicidal violence along Mexico's border with Texas. (Tim Johnson/MCT via Getty Images)</em>

  • Sept 15, 2008

    Suspected members of the Zetas drug gang tossed grenades into a crowd celebrating Mexico's independence day in the western city of Morelia, killing eight people and wounding more than 100. <em>Caption: From left to right: Julio Cesar Mondragon Mendoza, Juan Carlos Castro Galeana, and Alfredo Rosas Elicea, are members of a group of hitmen called the 'Zetas' shown to the press at the General Attorney's office in Mexico City, on September 26, 2008. The three gangsters confessed that they are the authors of a grenade attack that killed eight people during the celebration of Independence Day in Morelia, western Mexico. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)</em>