Pope Benedict XVI arrived at the Guanajuato International Airport on 23 March, 2012 on a six-day tour of Mexico and Cuba in order to address the strong surge in drug trafficking and gang violence in these regions.

The Pope received a warm welcome from Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife as well as cheering crowds at the airport.

Although the Mexican drug cartels have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful in the last few years, particularly after the demise of Colombia's Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s.

There has been an armed conflict among rival drug cartels fighting each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces seeking to combat drug trafficking.

Aboard the Alitalia jet that brought him to Mexico, Pope Benedict spoke to reporters condemning the drug war violence that has claimed the lives of thousands.

"It is the responsibility of the church to educate consciences, to teach moral responsibility and to unmask the evil," he said, "to unmask this idolatry of money that enslaves man, to unmask the false promises, the lies, the fraud that is behind drugs," the Los Angeles Times quoted the Pope saying.

As he arrived in Mexico, he said he would pray for those who need it "particularly for those who suffer because of old and new rivalries, resentments and all forms of violence."

The Pope will remain in Mexico until 26 March, 2012 during which time he will lodge in the Miraflores College, an educational institution named after a Carthusian monastery in Burgos, Spain.

The Pope's three days in Mexico include a meet with Federal President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, "blessing" the children and faithful in Leon's Plaza de la Paz and then presiding over a mass in the Parque Bicentenario and at Vespers in the cathedral of Leon.

Start the slideshow to catch a glimpse of Pope Benedict's arrival and tour of Mexico: