More than 26,000 missing in Mexico

Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:15 AM

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Mexican government says 26,121 people have disappeared in the past six years amid a surge in violence as the country cracked down on drug cartels.

In announcing the figure, Mexico's Interior Ministry said it did not know how many of the disappearances were connected to organized crime, CNN reported Wednesday.

All of the disappearances occurred during the presidency of Felipe Calderon that ended on December 1 when new president Enrique Pena Nieto assumed the office.

Lia Limon of the Interior Ministry said locating missing persons is a priority for Pena's government.

A special working group to focus on finding the missing has been formed, Limon said.

The release of the number of missing persons comes just days after Human Rights Watch said Mexican security forces were connected to the disappearances of at least 149 people during Calderon's presidency.

"President Pena Nieto has inherited one of the worst crises of disappearances in the history of Latin America, said Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch.

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