The bodies of 23 murder victims have been dumped at various locations in the southern Mexican state of Michoacan over the past three days, an official told Efe.

Five men were found shot to death Monday in Paracho, a town about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Morelia, the state capital.

The five bodies were left at three different spots in the town, each accompanied by a message claiming responsibility on behalf of Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), a remnant of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the state official said.

Ten bodies were dumped Sunday on roads in the regions of Jiquilpan and Sahuayo, near the border with Jalisco state.

The victims were all males whose hands and feet had been bound, and messages were left with the bodies stating that the killings were a settling of scores.

On Saturday, the bodies of eight murdered men appeared on the streets of Lazaro Cardenas, a port city in Michoacan.

Spiraling violence in Michoacan is blamed on the break-up of La Familia, founded in 2006 and considered one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.

The La Familia faction led by Jesus Mendez is battling the faction led by Servando Gomez and Enrique Plancarte, who formed Los Caballeros Templarios in March, journalists from Michoacan told Efe.

La Familia Michoacana began unraveling after the death in a shootout with Federal Police officers in late 2010 of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, known as "El Chayo."

A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and nearly 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country's cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.