Mexican Interior Secretary Francisco Blake Mora and seven others died in a helicopter crash near Mexico City on Friday, a government spokeswoman said Friday.

"Unfortunately the interior secretary, his collaborators and thehelicopter crew were found dead," a visibly shaken Alejandra Sotasaid.

The helicopter carry Blake Mora -- a key figure in Mexico's drug war -- had been traveling from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, in the neighboring state of Morelos, Sota said.

A search began after the helicopter disappeared from its projected route, Sota said, without elaborating.

Media reports said Blake Mora, 45, had been heading to a meeting of prosecutors.

A lawyer by profession, he assumed his post on July 14, 2010, and was the second interior secretary of President Felipe Calderon to die in an air accident.

Juan Camilo Mourino died in a small airplane crash on November 4, 2008 in Mexico City, along with the anti-drug prosecutor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos.

Calderon's presidency has been defined by his military crackdown on organized crime gangs, involving some 50,000 troops, which has been accompanied by brutal violence that has left some 45,000 dead since 2006.