May 14, 2019 / 3:05 PM / 2 months ago

Mexico finds 337 bodies since Lopez Obrador took office in December

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to the media during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico May 1, 2019. Press Office Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican authorities have discovered 337 bodies in clandestine graves since Dec. 1, when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office, a top Mexican official said on Tuesday.

Lopez Obrador has pledged to reduce the violence plaguing Mexico, but so far the murder tally this year is on track to surpass the record total of 2018.

Deputy interior minister Alejandro Encinas told a regular morning news conference alongside Lopez Obrador that 337 bodies had been found in 222 graves mainly in the states of Veracruz, Sonora, Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Colima.

The states have been among the hardest hit by killings and disappearances at the hands of organised crime in recent years.

Encinas, who has the human rights portfolio within the interior ministry, said it was the new government’s first official count of corpses in clandestine graves.

The list Encinas provided did not seem to include 38 bodies that officials have so far found in recent and ongoing digging around the metropolitan area of Mexico’s second-biggest city, Guadalajara.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands disappeared since Mexico’s government sent in the armed forces at the end of 2006 to crack down on drug cartels.

Reporting by Noe Torres; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Susan Thomas

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