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Mexico exhumes more than 100 people buried by authorities in mass grave

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 19:  Mexican police stand near a skull discovered with other remains in what is thought to be a large grave in the desert of victims of recent drug violence on March 19, 2010 in the county ofJuarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon?s strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans who worked for the U.S. Consulate last weekend as they returned from a children?s party.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 19: Mexican police stand near a skull discovered with other remains in what is thought to be a large grave in the desert of victims of recent drug violence on March 19, 2010 in the county ofJuarez, Mexico. The border city of Juarez has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon?s strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans who worked for the U.S. Consulate last weekend as they returned from a children?s party. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2010 Getty Images)

Mexican officials on Monday began exhuming the remains of more than 100 unidentified people buried by authorities in a common grave in the central state of Morelos, state prosecutors said.

The exhumations began after noon in the Las Cruces site in Cuautla township. Blue-smocked investigators worked under a yellow tent as families of missing persons and representatives of the National Human Rights Commission looked on.

Shoddy practices at the gravesite for unidentified dead came to light last year after a judge ordered the state prosecutor's office to exhume a body and turn it over to family members. They found they had to dig around dozens of plastic-wrapped bodies without any documentation connecting them to case files.

Genetic samples will be taken from each set of remains to attempt identification and then they will be reburied in marked graves.

State prosecutor Javier Pérez Durón said the investigation into how the unidentified remains were buried is underway and officials will pursue those responsible.

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"It is extremely important and the highest responsibility to count the bodies, give them a dignified burial, take samples, which is the most important, to see if a relative here or in another state or beyond these borders is looking for a relative and who could be here," Pérez Durón said.

Morelos, like the neighboring states of Guerrero and Mexico, has suffered drug violence and disappearances for years, making some families hopeful they may finally find their loved ones.

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