Prosecutors in western Mexico said they found 23 sets of skeletal remains in a lakeside community known for its highly acidic hot springs and mud pits.
The prosecutor’s office in Michoacan said only eight bodies, six men and two women, had been identified, mainly from clothing or dental records.
The office said on Sunday that the condition of the rest of the bodies was so bad that a DNA test may be needed.
The prosecutor’s office said some of the victims died from gunshot wounds, others from circumcision and one from head injuries. Officials said forensic anthropology and dental studies have revealed that the victims are between 16 and 60 years of age.
It is not clear whether the perpetrators deliberately dumped the bodies in the area known as Los Negritos – after black clay face masks became popular there – so that they would disappear more quickly.
The area is near the city of La Barca, where authorities found more than five dozen bodies in mass graves linked to the Jalisco cartel in 2013. The Justice Department considers the Jalisco Cartel “one of the five most dangerous international criminal organizations in the world”.
Drug cartels in Mexico often use secret burial pits to dispose of the bodies of kidnapping victims or rivals. In March, officials in northern Mexico said volunteer searchers hadJust a few miles from the US border.
Mexico currently has over 100,000 people,