Body thought to be from 1970s or '80s found in Lake Mead in Nevada 'due to drought'

Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, is the USA's largest reservoir. Credit: AP

A murder investigation has been launched after human remains from what could be the 1970s or '80s were found in a Nevada reservoir.

A barrel containing the body surfaced in Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, due to an ongoing drought, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) said.

Lake Mead's National Park Service called the police after discovering the barrel on Sunday at around 5.45pm local time.

The LVMPD believes the victim died from a gunshot wound and that, based on the clothing and footwear the victim was found with, the killing happened in the mid 1970s to the early '80s.

Las Vegas Police launched a homicide investigation following the discovery of the body.

Investigators are currently working to identify the victim.

They will “definitely not rule out” that the killing may have been Mafia-related, given that mob-connected casinos ruled the Las Vegas Strip in the 80s, Lt Spencer also told the paper.

Lake Mead is the USA's largest reservoir and boasts more than 750 miles of shoreline. According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the reservoir's water level has dropped by nearly 150 feet since 2000. The federal government predicts that the levels will continue to decline over the coming years.