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Police probing massacre found dead

Two dead bodies found in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas appear to be those of a state detective and local police chief who investigated the massacre of 72 migrants in August, prosecutors said.

If confirmed, the killings would be one of the most brazen signs of defiance yet by the drug cartels: not only are the gangs willing to commit wholesale massacres, they are apparently unafraid to kill officials who try to investigate such crimes.

The Tamaulipas state attorney general's office said that identification documents found on the bodies matched those of the missing officials, state detective Roberto Suarez Vazquez and Juan Carlos Suarez Sanchez, who was head of the public safety department of the town of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, where the massacre occurred.

The bodies were found in a field about 30 miles north-east of San Fernando.

The officials were missing since August 24, when they participated in the initial investigations into the massacre, which was apparently committed the previous day at a ranch outside San Fernando.

The office said in a statement that it was conducting DNA tests to confirm the identities, suggesting the condition of the bodies may have been too poor to permit visual identification.

Mr Suarez Vazquez filed the initial crime report on the bodies of the massacre victims, and Mr Suarez Sanchez accompanied him during that task.

The killings appeared to demonstrate that the Zetas drug gang - which authorities have said was apparently responsible for killing the 72 mainly Central American migrants - did not flee the region, even after Mexican marines swarmed the area, found the bodies and engaged in a firefight with suspects, killing three and detaining another.

Instead, the gang appears to have closely followed the investigations, seeking either to impede the probe or resolve it quickly.

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