EFEMexico City

Investigators continue gathering evidence at the ranch in the western Mexican state of Michoacan at which 42 suspected drug traffickers and a Federal Police officer died in a shootout.

The bodies of the cartel gunmen were removed from the ranch by National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, and coroner's office personnel on Saturday, a day after the shootout.

The corpses were taken to the coroner's office in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan.

The shootout occurred on Friday morning at a ranch in Tinaja de Vargas, a community outside the city of Tanhuato.

The fallen officer was honored at a ceremony held on Saturday morning by the Federal Police and attended by the officer's family, friends and the law enforcement agency's chief, Enrique Galindo.

The shootout started when officers arrived at the ranch to investigate reports that a gang had occupied the property, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said.

Three suspects were arrested in connection with the shootout, Rubido said.

The gunmen belonged to the Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel, which controls drug trafficking in the western state of Jalisco, officials said.

The Jalisco Nueva Generacion organization was created in 2010 as a cell of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel and operated in Jalisco under the command of Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel.

Coronel's death in 2010 triggered a turf war between the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel and La Resistencia, a gang allied with the Los Zetas cartel.

The Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel has been involved in a series of attacks in recent months, with the biggest occurring on May 1, when gunmen shot down a military helicopter, killing nine people.

Investigators suspect that the helicopter had spotted a convoy carrying the cartel's leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes.

Michoacan, for its part, has been plagued by a wave of violence in recent years blamed on the Los Caballeros Templarios cartel.