Dozens more bodies found in Mexican mine

Police discovered dozens more bodies in an abandoned mine suspected of being used by drug gangs as a dumping ground for their victims, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

The first 20 corpses, including the warden of a nearby jail, were pulled more than a week ago from the bottom of a 500-foot (150-metre) deep air shaft at the Concha mine in Taxco, a pretty colonial town in western Mexico.

As of Saturday, 55 bodies had been pulled out of the mine, some in advanced stages of decomposition, the state attorney general's office said in a statement.

Officials have been rappelling into the mine shafts to look for bodies since the first ones were found May 29, and have 10 more ducts to explore.

"The smell was intolerable," said Carlos Amezcua, the head of emergency services in the Guerrero state who participated in the recovery effort.

Tens of thousands have died since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led crackdown on drug gangs soon after he took office in late 2006. Most have been killed in clashes between rival cartels fighting for drug smuggling routes to the United States, the No. 1 consumer of Mexican narcotics.

Quaint towns like Taxco, founded in the early 1600s and featuring silver crafts and religious festivals that attract thousands of visitors each year, are increasingly drawn into the violence concentrated along the US-Mexico border.

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