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23 Oct, 2014 15:33

Mexico corruption: State mayor, wife issued warrants over kidnapped students

Mexico corruption: State mayor, wife issued warrants over kidnapped students

The mayor of the Mexican town where 43 students disappeared last month is a “possible mastermind” of the abduction, along with his wife, believes the attorney general.

As arrest warrants were being issued for Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and Maria de los Angeles Pineda on Wednesday, the town of Iguala continued to erupt in protest over the September 26 disappearance, which they believe was orchestrated by corrupt police and a fierce drug cartel operating in the state of Guerrero.

The kidnapped students have not been seen since.

The highest-ranking couple in the entire state is now seen by authorities to be directly complicit in the abduction by targeting the students during a political event for increased rights. The same goes for Police Chief Felipe Flores Velasquez; local law enforcement has long been believed to be in the gangsters’ pockets.

"We have issued warrants for the arrest of Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, his wife Mrs. Pineda Villa, and Police Chief Felipe Flores Velazquez, as probable masterminds of the events that occurred in Iguala on September 26," Attorney General Jesus Murillo said.

The problem is, following the September incident the mayor requested leave from his post, and neither he nor his wife have been seen since.

Murillo informed reporters that, according to information provided by the arrested leader of a fierce local gang – the Guerreros Unidos - Pineda comes from a family of prominent drug traffickers and was actually the Iguala government boss of the drug cartel.

Gang chief Sidronio Casarrubias told police that the mayor and his wife were complicit. Their aim had been to keep the students at bay, which wasn’t difficult to do, given alleged police involvement with the gang.

The initial September incident saw the student teachers from a local college clash with police during a protest, which led to at least six deaths. A number were also arrested and believed to have been handed over to the Guerreros Unidos – the drug cartel, which allegedly mistook them for a rival gang.

The protests and the ensuing chaos (which spread to other cities) have sent waves through the country, already struggling with some of the highest kidnapping and murder rates in the world.

On October 22, thousands marched in the capital Mexico City in solidarity with the missing students.

On October 14, hundreds of residents in the Guerrero city of Chilpancingo smashed up the state capital building in a furious protest over the continued lack of information about the students’ disappearance.

According to local authorities, the crowds included hundreds of students and teachers from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college, who blockaded the building and used sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails to attack the building.

READ MORE Furious students burn Mexican govt. building in protest over police corruption

The police are continuing their investigation of the nine mass graves where 30 bodies had earlier been found. None of them belonged to any of the 43 kidnapped students.

Crime continues to be rampant in Latin America’s second economy. It could seriously shake President Enrique Pena Nieto’s attempts to present Mexico as a country recovering from high crime rates.

It was worse during his predecessor Felipe Calderon’s time, when drug violence in the period from 2007 onwards saw 100,000 dead. According to Reuters speaking to the government in a different state – Tamaulipas, security forces there have killed 19 suspected criminals on Tuesday alone.