February 16, 2018 / 1:22 AM / a month ago

Mexico finds remains possibly belonging to law enforcement agents

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican attorney general’s office said on Thursday it found human remains that may belong to two law enforcement agents specializing in organized crime who recently appeared in an online video that seemed to show their kidnapping.

The federal agents, Octavio Martinez and Alfonso Hernandez, disappeared on Feb. 5 after attending a family event in the Pacific state of Nayarit, one of the regions hit hardest by an increase in gang-related killings.

A video posted online the following weekend appeared to show the two agents, part of the attorney general’s organized crime unit, kneeling and with their hands tied.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement it needed to run DNA tests to confirm the identities of the remains.

On Wednesday, local media reported that another law enforcement agent had been killed in Nayarit.

Mexico is experiencing its worst-ever surge in violent crime, with more than 25,000 killings in 2017, a rate of more than 20.5 per 100,000 people.

Mexican officials said last month the government was set to unleash a new wave of troops to crack down on criminal groups in affected regions. Violence has increased as rival drug gangs splinter into smaller groups and dispute territory.

The description of the video on YouTube said the Jalisco New Generation Cartel was behind the kidnapping, but Reuters could not independently confirm that.

The United States regards the cartel as one of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs.

Nayarit’s then attorney general, Edgar Veytia, was arrested in San Diego last year on U.S. narcotics trafficking conspiracy charges.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Peter Cooney

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