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More graves discovered in Mexico

October 28, 2014

Authorities have found another set of clandestine graves in a new area of Guerrero state in southern Mexico. They are testing the remains to see if they belong to missing students who were last seen in police custody.

Mexiko mass grave in Cerro Gordo, near Iguala
Image: Y. Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

The new site containing human remains was discovered in an area called Cocula, about 17 km (10 miles) from Iguala, where the 43 students were last seen on September 26, local media reported.

Speaking to the press, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam did not directly refer to the new mass graves, but said that reporters would be taken to a new crime scene on Tuesday, which the suspects had identified. Investigators have meanwhile apprehended more than 50 suspects for questioning.

Murillo Karam also confirmed the arrests of four key persons involved in the students' kidnapping: "Today we now have those who organized the disappearance of these youths." Two of the detainees, possibly members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, told investigators that they received a large group of people on September 26, the day the students clashed with the police.

In October, authorities found a total of 11 graves in Pueblo Viejo in Iguala municipality but initial testing failed to ascertain that the bodies belonged to the missing protestors. A second round of tests is being conducted and there is a possibility that the human remains found on Monday could belong to the missing students.

Authorities and drug cartels collude

Iguala's mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife were suspected of masterminding the students' disappearance, the Attorney General said, referring to the night on September 26 when 43 students went missing after they clashed with the police and masked men. The mayor and his wife allegedly ordered local police forces to prevent students from disrupting a political campaign where he was planning to launch his wife as the his successor for the city's top job.

The students, who were admitted to a teachers' college in Iguala, had hijacked some buses for organizing protests. Soon after, they were shot at by the police and taken to the police station. They were then boarded onto a dump truck and taken to Cocula, on the outskirts of Iguala. The students were possibly still alive at this point in time, but were later handed over to the cartel's members.

Mexicans across the country reacted to the crime and the discovery of the graves with extreme shock and protests. The case also drew international criticism because of the apparent collusion between the local police and the Guerrero Unidos cartel.

The case of the missing students cast a shadow on President Pena Nieto's political clout, especially after he claimed that the country was becoming safer during his tenure. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in gang-related violence in Mexico since 2007.

mg/slk (AP, Reuters)

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