Mexican authorities have discovered at least 20 bodies in graves located on two ranches in the southwestern state of Morelos, near that state's border with Guerrero.  One of the clandestine graves - which was reached by way of a scarcely passable dirt road, on which were found a shoe, clothing, a license plate and several spent cartridges - was discovered on Monday afternoon by members of the federal police, army and state justice department.  Work on uncovering the other grave, from which 12 of the bodies were recovered, had begun back in mid-November.  Officials say that with regard to the latter, signs point to the involvement of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, a drug gang which has weakened significantly in recent years. 

Those 12 victims, said an official from the Morelos department of justice, had been killed between a year and a half and two years ago.  The agency said that the owner of the house where the grave was found had rented it on at least three different occasions, and residents in the area claimed to have seen armed men enter it.  In the case of the other eight victims, some had been buried about two months ago, while the remaining two appeared to have been killed much earlier, as their remains had disintegrated to a significant degree.  On December 5, according to La Jornada, another grave was found by authorities in a nearby town, though no remains have been recovered from it as of yet.

The Morelos Commission of Human Rights wrote on August 13 that according to the report sent to them by the state's department of justice, within the last two years and four months, 1,012 people had disappeared in the state.  In 2011, the justice department reported 548 cases of missing persons - 266 women and 192 men - and in 2012, 418 cases, including 362 in the metropolitan area of Cuernavaca, the state capital.  From January to April 2013, 46 disappearances have been reported. 

 

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