Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

18 bodies dug up in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- Investigators have dug up 18 bodies in western Mexico after questioning nearly two dozen police officers who confessed to working with a drug cartel and led agents to a series of mass graves, an official said Friday.

Officials said more bodies could be found as excavation of eight graves continues. Some of the bodies were gagged and showed signs of torture, and one of them was a woman, said the federal prosecutors official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Neither the identities of the victims nor the motive for the killings have been released, but the area near the border between Jalisco and Michoacan states is the site of a turf war between the Knights Templar and the New Generation cartels. The graves were located in La Barca in a remote area by Lake Chapala, which is popular among tourists and American retirees.

The grisly discovery comes as the government scrambles to curb violence in Michoacan, where locals have formed self-defence groups to fight the pseudo-religious Knights Templar. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto says homicides are down even as the state of Michoacan deals with an unprecedented level of attacks. In late October, gang members shut down electrical facilities in the state, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.

The discovery of the mass graves follows the capture of 22 police officers and three other men who are suspects in the disappearances of two federal investigators.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 A31

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