LATIN AMERICA

Four cartel hitmen arrested over disappearance of 43 students in Iguala

Mexican authorities find new unmarked grave 15 kilometers outside of the town

Families of the missing students attend a march.
Families of the missing students attend a march.

Mexican authorities have arrested four members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel who admitted to being partly responsible for the disappearance of 43 student teachers on September 26. Prosecutor General Jesús Murillo Karam said the detainees had confessed that they received and held captive “a large group of people” and that they knew the whereabouts of the youths.

Murillo Karam said his office was trying to verify the information the men in custody had given them about the site “where the events related to the disappearances might have taken place.”

The Mexican press has reported that federal and military forces have found human remains in an unmarked grave in Cocula, 15 kilometers from Iguala, in Guerrero State, southeast Mexico. The location, which was used as a municipal landfill site, is being excavated and Argentinean forensic experts are examining the remains.

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Since the disappearance of the students, the Prosecutor General’s Office has found 28 bodies in 10 mass graves on the outskirts of Iguala. According to Mexican officials, none of the remains examined belonged to the students from the Escuela Normal de Ayotzinapa teachers’ college. In the last month, 56 people have been arrested in relation to the disappearance of 43 student teachers and the deaths of six others.

The General Prosecutor has repeated that the search continues for Iguala’s former mayor, José Luis Abarca, and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda, who are suspected of being responsible for the disappearances and have been on the run since September 26. The case shows there is a close relationship between local authorities and organized crime in the region.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Guerrero’s new governor, Rogelio Ortega, have agreed to create a new team of experts to observe and oversee the work of the Prosecutor General’s Office during the investigation of the case. “It is imperative that we discover the whereabouts of the missing youths from Ayotzinapa and that we apply the law to those who are presumably responsible for these very terrible events,” Peña Nieto said in a televised speech.

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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