By Lizbeth Diaz
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least 33 mutilated corpses have been found buried in an area of western Mexico where drug cartels are battling each other, officials said on Friday, the latest in a series of grisly finds amid a scourge of gang-related violence.
The bodies, which showed signs of torture, were found in 19 ditches in La Barca, on the border between the states of Michoacan and Jalisco, where a clutch of rival cartels operate.
Experts began searching the area based on comments from 25 municipal police who were detained, accused of links to criminal organizations. Some of them had said corpses of people killed by rival gangs were dumped in the area.
"It looks like a minefield ... The excavations have been carried out based on the declarations of the detained police," an official at the attorney general's office told Reuters, declining to be identified for security reasons.
"We haven't ruled out that there could be more bodies."
Mexico has suffered from a wave of drug-related violence, with about 1,000 people a month dying in gangland killings. About 80,000 people have died since 2007 in cartel violence.
President Enrique Pena Nieto has sought to shift the focus away from drug violence that dominated his predecessor's term and onto economic reforms he is seeking to push through Congress.
Pena Nieto vowed to focus on reducing violent crime and extortion rather than going head to head with drug bosses. However, the steady stream of killings has continued unabated.
(Editing by Simon Gardner and Doina Chiacu)