ACAPULCO, Mexico – Soldiers on Tuesday unearthed 17 bodies buried in two clandestine graves in the southern state of Guerrero and authorities said they were searching for more.
Soldiers found the bodies in the town of San Miguel Totolapan, which is in a Mexican region known for marijuana and opium production and as a shipment route for cocaine, said Guerro state investigative police director Fernando Monreal.
Monreal said he had no other details on the gruesome discovery, except that soldiers were looking for more bodies late Tuesday.
This is the third time in less than a year that authorities have discovered mass graves in the Pacific coast state, which has seen a spike in violence since rival factions of the Beltran Leyva cartel began fighting over territory following the December 2009 death of capo Arturo Beltran Leyva.
In November, authorities found a grave outside Acapulco with 18 bodies. The cadavers were from a group of 20 travelers kidnapped while visiting the resort city from neighboring Michoacan state. Two of the men remain missing.
In May, police discovered 55 bodies inside an abandoned silver mine on the outskirts of Taxco that had become a dumping ground for apparent victims of Mexico's drug violence.
Also Tuesday, police found four bodies dumped along a highway connecting Acapulco to Mexico City.
The four men had been shot to death, Guerrero state prosecutors said in a statement.
The bodies were found about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the spot along the same highway where four state police officers were ambushed and killed on Monday. The officers were guarding state police commander Humberto Velazquez, who was traveling in a different car and wasn't hurt in the attack.
Another four people, including a couple shot to death inside the hotel they managed in the coastal town of Atoyac de Alvarez, were killed Tuesday in three separate attacks in Guerreo, prosecutors said.
More than 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence sinceMexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the country's drug gangs shortly after taking office in December 2006.
In the northern state of Tamaulipas, Mexican marines killed eight gunmen, the navy said in a statement.
The navy said marines were checking on a report of gunmen traveling in several pickup trucks in the town of Valle Hermoso when they came under fire. They returned fire and the alleged assailants ran toward some bushes.
Marines found the bodies of eight suspected drug traffickers when they searched the area, the navy said.
Tanhuato police chief Jose Gomez was driving his patrol car when assailants shot him at least 20 times, Michoacan state prosecutors said.