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Body Count Reaches 218 in Mexico Mass Graves

 
 
 
 
 
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Investigators suspect that the killings may have been carried out by the Sinaloa, Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva drug cartels, Mexican media reported.

Investigators and army troops found another 17 bodies in Durango city, the capital of the like-named northern Mexican state, over the weekend, bringing to 218 the number of bodies found at several sites since early April, officials said.

Federal Police officers and army troops discovered a mass grave in a vacant lot about a block from where another clandestine grave was found recently, the state Public Safety Secretariat said.

Officials announced on Friday that the search for bodies was over, but the investigations remains open.

The latest discovery raised to six the number of mass graves found in the northern state.

The first mass grave was found in a residential area on April 4 and yielded 89 bodies.

Investigators suspect that the killings may have been carried out by the Sinaloa, Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva drug cartels, Mexican media reported.

The mass graves in Durango have now yielded more bodies than those in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, where 183 bodies were found in the city of San Fernando.

The bodies found in the mass graves in Tamaulipas are believed to be those of people who were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel while traveling through San Fernando on buses and were later murdered.

The mass graves were found in the wake of reports that gunmen had forced men off buses headed for Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, between March 19 and March 31.

Some gangs have resorted to using unusual methods to recruit gunmen because of the high casualties in the war being waged by rival drug traffickers for control of territory, the federal government says.

The incidents involving the buses may have been an attempt to recruit gunmen, investigators said.

The majority of the bodies discovered in Durango city were in the Las Fuentes neighborhood.

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s oldest and largest drug trafficking organization, has been trying to gain control of Durango, the press reported.

Durango, one of the states most affected by drug-related violence, is reported to be the hiding place of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.

Nearly 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

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