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Illegal loggers in Mexico suspected of role in activist's disappearance


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican human rights organization on Monday urged authorities to investigate the disappearance of an environmental activist dedicated to protecting the famed monarch butterfly, suggesting the case may be linked to illegal logging in the area.

Homero Gomez, who manages a butterfly sanctuary in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, disappeared on Jan. 13, according to the Human Rights State Commission of Michoacan.

The organization has asked the attorney general's office to determine if Gomez's disappearance is linked to his role in defending Mexico's forests, commission official Mayte Cardona told Reuters.

"He was probably hurting the (business) interests of people illegally logging in the area," Cardona said.

Illegal logging and trafficking is rife in Michoacan, a state plagued by organized crime.

"The investigation is ongoing," a source with the state prosecutor said.

Environmentalists say illegal logging hurts the habitat of the monarch butterfly, which migrates thousands of kilometers from Canada across the United States to reproduce in Mexico.

(Reporting by Raul Cortes; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Paul Simao)

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