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Top official quits after massacre

Mexico's top immigration official has resigned in the wake of a massacre of 72 migrants that exposed how brutally drug cartels have come to control human smuggling routes in the country.

Cecilia Romero stepped down as head of the National Institute of Migration, a post she had held since the beginning of President Felipe Calderon's term in December 2006, the Interior Department said in a statement.

The statement gave no reason for her resignation, only praising Ms Romero's efforts to modernise the institute, improve migrant shelters, and push through several accords with other countries to help make deportations more orderly.

A government official said the massacre three weeks ago highlighted how intertwined drug trafficking and illegal immigration had become in Mexico.

"She's revamped the institute and made it a more human and respectful place," the official said. "Given that organised crime has gotten into the business, we need a different type of head with a different type of background."

The bodies of the 72 Central and South American migrants were found on August 24 at a ranch about 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

Police have arrested several alleged members of the Zetas gang, which they suspect killed the migrants after they refused to work as drug traffickers. It was Mexico's worst drug cartel massacre.

Drug cartels have long been increasingly controlling migration corridors in Mexico, as migrants pay for passage through their territory.

Now, Mexican authorities say drug cartels are increasingly trying to recruit vulnerable migrants to smuggle drugs.

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