Government officials said they are investigating 40 foreign Roman Catholic priests in violence-plagued Chiapas state and may deport them, local media reported Saturday.

The report follows the deportation Thursday of French priest Michel Chanteau, accused by immigration officials of being involved in political activities.Mexico's constitution prohibits foreigners from interfering in domestic politics. The Mexican government interprets the prohibition broadly, especially in Chiapas where leftist Zapatista guerrillas staged an armed uprising in January 1994.

Newspapers quoted unidentified sources Saturday in the Interior Ministry as saying that immigration agents will begin asking parishioners in Chiapas whether foreign priests are engaged in political activities.

Conservative politicians in Chiapas have frequently accused the church, particularly foreign priests, of supporting the rebels.

In the past three years, the government has expelled more than 200 foreigners suspected of sympathizing with the Zapatistas.