At least 28 bodies found at a ranch in eastern Mexico

MEXICO CITY Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:14pm EDT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican authorities said on Wednesday they had found the remains of at least 28 people in a mass grave at a ranch in the eastern state of Veracruz, which has been wracked by violence between feuding drug gangs.

In a statement, state prosecutors said investigators and forensic experts had been sent to the ranch, which was being guarded by members of the Mexican Navy.

There was no information on the sex of the bodies, or the cause of their death, and the local government said the number of corpses discovered could rise.

"So far, we've exhumed 28 bodies," Deputy District Attorney Arturo Herrera said in the statement.

The eastern state of Veracruz, a major oil-producing zone, has suffered outbreaks of violence since former President Felipe Calderon sent in the army to tame the drug cartels soon after taking office at the end of 2006.

The Gulf Cartel and the brutal Zetas gang have fought for control of Veracruz, in one of the many territorial battles across Mexico that have left more than 85,000 people dead since 2007.

But between January and April of this year, murders in Veracruz had fallen by 40 percent from the same period last year to 171, according to official data.

Murders are also down nationwide, but kidnapping and extortion have risen since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office at the end of 2012.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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