Latin America & Caribbean

Mass grave in northern Mexico contains 50 bodies

The Mexican authorities say they have recovered more than 50 bodies from a clandestine cemetery in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

The dead are thought to be victims of drugs gangs who have been fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States.

Investigators have been using heavy machinery to dig for the bodies outside the city of Monterrey.

Forensic experts are working to identify the dead.

"The majority of the bodies have tattoos which could give us an indication about whether they belonged to one group or other and whether they were linked to organised crime" said state attorney general Alejandro Garza y Garza.

Some have bullet wounds, and some are badly burned. Almost all the victims were men.

Refrigerated lorries are being used to store the bodies because local morgues do not have enough room.

Torture

The remote site near a rubbish dump was discovered by the army after an anonymous tip-off.

Most of the bodies were buried in deep pits, but others were found on or near the surface.

Investigators believe drug gangs used the spot to torture and kill their victims.

In the past weeks, two other mass grave sites have been discovered in Nuevo Leon, which is the scene of a fierce battle between between rival drugs gangs.

The powerful Gulf cartel has been fighting its former allies, the Zetas, for control of lucrative smuggling routes to the US.

More than 200 people have disappeared in the border state over the past three years.

Almost 25,000 people have died in drug related violence in Mexico since the government deployed the army to fight the cartels in December 2006.

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