127 bodies uncovered in north Mexico mass graves
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 21:46
Mexico City: At least 11 more bodies were found in five new mass graves in north Mexico, bringing the total to 127 corpses uncovered near the US border, with officials earlier accusing the Zetas drug gang of most of the killings.

The mass graves in Sinaloa state on the Pacific coast held 11 bodies, including two of women, an official with Sinaloa prosecutor's office told AFP, hours after authorities said yesterday 116 bodies had been uncovered in graves in Tamaulipas state, in the northeast.

The Mexican government accused the Zetas gang of the Tamaulipas killings, but by late yesterday officials had not late named suspects over the graves found on a Sinaloa ranch.

However a prosecution source said on condition of anonymity that messages were found on the site apparently authored by the Zeta group, as well as messages from members of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

Police have detained 17 suspects in the Tamaulipas cases, and believe gunmen from the notoriously violent cartel dragged the victims off buses passing through the San Fernando area of Tamaulipas state.

"We can confirm that a total of 116 people have been found dead as a result of criminal actions apparently caused by actions by the Zetas criminal group," Attorney General Marisela Morales told reporters earlier.

Los Zetas, founded by deserters from the Mexican special forces and thought to have many corrupt former officials and ex-police on its payroll, is at the heart of the narcotics trade and organized crime in Mexico.

Engaged since February 2010 in a turf war for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States with the Gulf Cartel -- its former employers -- the cartel was blamed for the massacre of 72 migrants in August in Tamaulipas.

Mexican officials say that, aside from drug smuggling, the Zetas use extortion and kidnapping to raise money.

The largest concentration of graves ever found in Mexico was unearthed yesterday in the San Fernando area, about 160 kilometers south of the Texan border, and the grisly toll has been rising steadily ever since.

Tamaulipas state officials said at least six buses have been attacked by gunmen this year and several passengers kidnapped. Residents told local media the real toll is far higher.

Officials said two buses known to be missing were carrying mostly Mexicans. However, Guatemala's foreign ministry said one of the bodies found in the graves was that of a 44-year-old Guatemalan man.

Separately, the US consulate in the Tamaulipas city of Matamoros said at least one American was kidnapped while traveling in one of the held-up buses.


First Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 21:46

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