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Top Mexican Cabinet secretary, seven others die in helicopter crash

In this Wednesday July 14, 2010, Mexico's Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora attends his his swearing in ceremony at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City. The Mexican government said Friday Nov. 11, 2011, that Mora, Mexico's No. 2 government official next to the president, has died in a helicopter crash with seven others, including the pilot. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

In this Wednesday July 14, 2010, Mexico's Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora attends his his swearing in ceremony at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City. The Mexican government said Friday Nov. 11, 2011, that Mora, Mexico's No. 2 government official next to the president, has died in a helicopter crash with seven others, including the pilot. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government said Friday that the country's top Cabinet secretary, Francisco Blake Mora, has died in a helicopter crash with seven others, including the pilot.

The Presidency spokeswoman, Alejandra Sota, said authorities located the bodies of the secretary and seven others. They included Interior Undersecretary Felipe Zamora, said agency spokesman Jose Alfredo Garcia.

Blake Mora was traveling to a prosecutors' meeting in the neighboring state of Morelos when the helicopter went down in southern Mexico City. There was no immediate cause given for the crash.

The secretary of the interior is the country's top official after the president, overseeing internal political affairs and security, making him a key figure in overseeing the battle against drug cartels as well as negotiating with opposition political parties.

President Felipe Calderon lost another interior secretary, Juan Camilo Mourino, in a plane crash in Mexico City in November 2008.

Calderon appointed Blake Mora as interior secretary in July 2010.

Blake Mora, 45, started his political career in the mid-1990s as an official in his native Tijuana and served as a federal congressman through the 2000s.

Blake Mora was Calderon's point man in the government's war against organized crime, frequently traveling to the country's most dangerous places for meetings with besieged state and local security officials.

He was an embodiment of the Mexican government's get-tough attitude on drug dealing, publicly pledging to bring the fight to the traffickers instead of backing down.

"Organized crime, in its desperation, resorts to committing atrocities that we can't and shouldn't tolerate as a government and as a society," he said.

He also directly handled disasters, such as flooding and the massive oil pipeline explosion that laid waste to parts of the central city of San Martin Texmelucan last year, killing at least 28 people.

He led the creation of a new national identity card for youths under 18, with modern features including digitalized fingerprints and iris images, to prevent criminals from using false IDs.