By Natalia Parra
The Associated Press
Acapulco, Guerrero - Mexican police on Saturday found an abandoned silver mine scattered with bodies outside a colonial-era town popular with international tourists.
Five bodies were recovered from the mine at Taxco in southern Mexico in what appears to be a dumping ground for victims of organized crime, said Manuel Nava Garcia, a spokesman for Guerrero state government.
A state official who asked to remain anonymous because of safety concerns estimates there may be more than 20 bodies at the site. He said authorities were tipped off by an organized crime suspect arrested on Friday in the nearby city of Iguala.
The human remains appear to have accumulated over an undetermined time as bodies were tossed over a 300-foot (100-meter) precipice into the mine.
Police and military crews exploring the underground site since Saturday morning wore breathing equipment to guard against the possible noxious gases in the mine. The search was suspended after dark until Sunday morning.
The state of Guerrero is plagued by drug violence among rival gangs, and marked by brazen attacks on police and soldiers engaged in a crackdown on traffickers.
But Taxco is better known for its silver jewelry, winding streets and Holy Week processions.
It was unclear for how long the mine - just one of many abandoned mines in the area - had been used to dispose of bodies.
President Felipe Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police across the country to fight drug traffickers since taking office in late 2006. Drug gang violence has surged since the deployment, claiming more than 22,700 lives.