Taxco, Mexico: At least 55 bodies have been recovered from an abandoned silver mine that became a dumping ground for apparent victims of Mexico`s drug violence, authorities said Monday.
The search for more victims ended over the weekend at the mine on the outskirts of Taxco, a colonial-era tourist town famous for its silver jewelry, said Albertico Guinto, attorney general for the state of Guerrero.
Guinto said the overall toll could still rise, however, as forensic examiners try to determine whether other human remains, clothing and shoes found in the nearly 500-foot-deep (150-meter-deep) shaft correspond to victims already included in the tally.
Most of the bodies have not been identified, but prosecutors recently said one was a recently kidnapped prison director. At least 15 people have been detained in the case.
Police discovered the mass grave in late May based on a tip after the arrest of an organized crime suspect in the nearby city of Iguala. Also Monday, authorities in the Caribbean resort of Cancun were working to identify six bodies found in a cave over the weekend.
Quintana Roo state attorney general Francisco Alor initially said after the bodies were found Sunday that three had been cut open and their hearts removed. He retracted that statement Monday, saying autopsies showed the organs were stabbed multiple times and essentially destroyed, but were never removed. Toxicology results found drugs in all six victims.
In the northern state of Durango, police reported the discovery of six decapitated men along with two heads. Three more victims with severed heads were found by police in the central state of Morelos. A note left at the scene threatened people with ties to alleged drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villareal, who authorities say is fighting Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel.
Drug gang violence has claimed more than 22,700 lives since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels shortly after office in late 2006.