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Police find 10 bodies in Mexico clandestine graves

December 19, 2011
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MEXICO CITY—Prosecutors announced Monday they have found another clandestine grave holding 10 bodies in the northern Mexico state of Durango, bringing to 14 the number of such burial sites found in the state this year.

Soldiers found the 10 bodies last week in a field on the outskirts of the state capital, also called Durango, said Raymundo Enriquez, the spokesman for the Durango state prosecutors' office.

The total number of bodies believed related to drug gang violence found so far this year in clandestine graves in Durango now stands at 287, including the most recent discovery.

The sheer number of bodies overwhelmed the Durango forensic examiner's storage facilities, forcing authorities to rent a refrigerated truck. Authorities have so far been able to identify only about two dozen of the bodies; most have been buried again in common graves, after no relatives claimed them.

Police in the city of Durango have offered no motives in the killings, but officials have said the killings are the result of an internal power struggle within the Sinaloa drug cartel, Mexico's most powerful gang.

Also Monday, the Mexican army released five-year totals of the number of attacks and shootouts, soldiers killed and wounded since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in December 2006.

Army spokesman Col. Ricardo Trevilla told local media that there have been 1,948 attacks, ambushes or shootouts with gunmen since December 2006. In those confrontations, 126 army personnel were killed, but 2,268 gunmen died, a ratio of 1 soldier killed for every 18 gunmen.

Over the five-year period, the army also detained 2,180 suspected gunmen and wounded 348; a total of 744 soldiers have been wounded.

The totals do not cover exactly five years, but rather were calculated from Dec. 1, 2006, to Dec. 19, 2011; Calderon announced the first dispatch of troops to fight the cartels on Dec. 11 2006.

The army also acknowledged that 5,962 complaints had been filed with civilian authorities alleging human rights violations by soldiers, but only 92 cases resulted in nonbinding recommendations by the governmental Human Rights Commission, the strongest action that commission can take. The recommendations usually ask that the army investigate abuses, punish those responsible and take steps to ensure the abuses -- sometimes involving shootings of civilians at army checkpoints, or illegal searches or detentions -- do not occur again. It was not clear whether the other complaints were dismissed, dropped or whether some are still under investigation.

Also Monday, prosecutors say two mutilated bodies were found scattered in the plaza of a central Mexican town while a boy was killed around the same time in what police say may have been a related crime.

The Morelos state Attorney General's Office said a young man's torso was found early Monday on a basketball court in the town of Pueblo Viejo south of Mexico City. The rest of his body and the other victim's remains were found Monday in the town's plaza.

Authorities said they found a knife-carved message on the torso but didn't reveal the content. Drug gangs often use grisly displays of violence to intimidate rival groups.

A news statement said the attack may be related to the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy also found early Monday morning.

Mexico's tax service, which controls customs operations, also announced Monday that authorities had found 480 drums containing almost 100 metric tons of precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamines at the Pacific coast port of Lazaro Cardenas, in western Michoacan state.

The service said in a statement the chemical, methylamine, had arrived in a shipment from Shanghai. Its final destination, according to shipping documents, was the Guatemalan port of Puerto Quetzal.

The port is located in the home territory of the Knights Templar drug cartel, but the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels have been more active in Central America.

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