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More Bodies found in Mexico

(CNN) — Mexican authorities were taking fingerprints Wednesday to try to identify 72 bodies discovered Tuesday night on a ranch in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, officials said.

The bodies of the 58 men and 14 women were found above ground in a structure on the ranch, which is about 14 miles (22 km) from the town of San Fernando, near the border with Texas. The Mexican navy, which was called in to investigate the case, said it is one of the largest discoveries of bodies in Mexico’s 4-year-old war on organized crime.

Members of the Mexican navy were tipped off to the site after a man with a gunshot wound approached a military roadblock. The man said he had been injured by a criminal gang, according to a statement released by the navy.

"The navy went to the area where the man came from and encountered gunfights. A naval officer was killed and three of the delinquents were killed," an officer who answered the telephone at the navy’s communication department told CNN. The officer, who was not authorized to speak on the record, declined to give his name.

Bodies found in Mexico


After the gun battle, authorities said, they found a stash of weapons, including 21 rifles, camouflage uniforms, bullet proof vests and four trucks. One of the vehicles had been disguised to look like a truck from the Ministry of National Defense, officials said.

Wednesday’s gruesome discovery came about a month after authorities in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon discovered 51 bodies in nine mass graves.

In that instance, investigators found charred remains, incinerated bone fragments and stains of fire on the ground where bodies were presumably burned in steel drums, the state-run Notimex news agency said.

The bodies were mostly males between ages 20 and 50, Notimex said. Many of them had tattoos.

Similar mass graves have been discovered in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Quintana Roo since late May. Authorities have linked them to Mexico’s ongoing drug war.

Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, which border Texas, have seen a marked increase in drug violence this year due to an intensifying rivalry between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas gang, which was formerly the cartel’s armed branch.

Last week, authorities found the bound and blindfolded body of Edelmiro Cavazos Leal, the mayor of a city in Nuevo Leon. He had been abducted two days earlier.

His body was found on the outskirts of the city of Santiago, where Cavazos was mayor. There were signs of torture.

News reports indicate that officials believe the Zetas ordered Cavazos killed. Five police officers and a transit worker were arrested last week in connection with the slaying.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related incidents since President Felipe Calderon intensified the government’s fight against drug cartels and organized crime after taking office in December 2006.

About 90 percent of the fatalities have been among cartel members and other criminals, Calderon has said.

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