Mexican authorities said Monday that they had discovered another hidden grave -- this one by a garbage dump south of Iguala in Guerrero state -- and are examining the remains to determine whether they are the bodies of 43 college students missing for a month.
Atty. Gen. Jesus Murillo Karam indicated that information on the grave site came from four additional gang members who were captured over the weekend; two of them confessed to having had custody of a “large number” of the students, he said.
Mexican and Argentine forensic experts are examining remains found at the site outside the town of Cocula “to corroborate” the testimony of the detained men, members of a local drug gang known as Guerreros Unidos, Murillo Karam told reporters.
His lead investigator, Tomas Zeron, was at the site much of the day, witnesses said, fueling speculation that the long search for the students, who were last seen being led away by local police, had finally ended.
The students, from a rural college for peasant children aspiring to be teachers, went missing after being intercepted and attacked by local police from Iguala and Cocula, who initially opened fire on the students’ buses, killing six people.
Murillo Karam has previously said Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca ordered the attack on the students, whom he feared would disrupt a party his wife was giving. The wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, is the sister of major drug cartel lieutenants, authorities say. Abarca and Pineda are fugitives and wanted for arrest; Murillo Karam on Monday gave no new information on leads to their whereabouts.
A total of 56 people have been arrested, including the most recent four. Most are local police officers, including one who authorities said confessed to killing or watching the slaying of several of the students.
The Iguala case has outraged large segments of Mexican society and exposed, again, the way drug gangs and other criminal networks have penetrated government bodies and police agencies, ending in a collusion of profitable convenience among all concerned.
The most recent grave at Cocula, about 10 miles south of Iguala, is the 11th to be uncovered since the students disappeared Sept. 26. A total of 38 bodies have been recovered, none identified as the students, according to authorities.