EXPLAINER: Mexican military’s function in college students’ disappearance


MEXICO CITY — The Mexican military’s function within the disappearance of 43 faculty college students, its participation in protecting up the information and its alleged hyperlinks to organized crime at the moment are on the middle of a case that has shaken the nation. The federal government’s Reality Fee declared the incident a “state crime” in August.

Three members of the army and a former federal legal professional basic have been just lately arrested within the case, and few now consider the federal government’s preliminary declare {that a} native drug gang and allied native officers have been wholly accountable for seizing and killing the scholars on July 26, 2014, then burning their our bodies — most of which have by no means been discovered.

Essential particulars stay unclear regardless of years of investigation.

However the newspaper Reforma, which obtained parts of a Reality Fee report shared with the Legal professional Common’s Workplace, has printed particulars of messages between drug gang members and the army that seem to point out at the very least a few of the college students’ our bodies have been taken to an area military base. Advocates for the scholars’ households concern the leak of delicate particulars about suspects might jeopardize prosecutions.

Listed below are some questions and solutions in regards to the abductions.


The president of the Reality Fee, Alejandro Encinas, says that the false, official model introduced on the time by Legal professional Common Jesús Murillo Karam “was designed on the highest ranges of the federal authorities” after conferences within the presidency, then within the palms of Enrique Peña Nieto.

In line with that model, Iguala officers thought the scholars have been going to disrupt an area political occasion. It says police rounded up the 43 college students and turned them over to an area drug gang, which killed the youths, burned their our bodies at a dump and threw the stays right into a river.

Though all the scholars apparently have been murdered, it has since been confirmed that they have been taken in teams to totally different locations. Some apparently have been stored alive for days.

The scholars had hijacked buses to get to a protest in Mexico Metropolis and have been intercepted in Iguala — presumably as a result of one of many buses contained a drug cargo.


Three members of the army have been arrested this month, amongst them José Rodríguez Pérez, who as a colonel commanded the native military base in Iguala on the time of the scholars’ disappearance. The Reality Fee report alleges he ordered the killing of six college students days after their abduction.

Rodríguez Pérez was later promoted to basic. Now retired, he faces organized crime fees. A fourth member of the army, Capt. José Martínez Crespo was arrested in 2020. On Saturday, the Spanish newspaper El Pais printed paperwork exhibiting that the Legal professional Common’s Workplace had requested a choose to drop arrest orders in opposition to 16 different members of the army. The workplace didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Essentially the most politically important arrest occurred final month when former Legal professional Common Murillo Karam was detained. He has been charged with pressured disappearance, not reporting torture of suspects and official misconduct. He’s accused of asserting a false model of occasions that he referred to as “the historic fact.”


It was recognized from the start that the military had real-time data of occasions in Iguala on that evening as a result of troopers have been in key places, together with a police coordination middle. The Reality Fee report says at the very least one soldier was infiltrated among the many kidnapped college students.

In 2015, then-Military chief Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos assured that the military had no accountability within the occasions both by motion or omission. Communications collected by the Reality Fee, nevertheless, contradict that assertion. They counsel army personnel have been in touch with the criminals at key moments.


The Reality Fee report says at the very least one of many disappeared college students was a soldier despatched to spy on the faculty and an legal professional for fogeys has contended there was one other. Individually, kinfolk of Julio Cesar Mondragon, certainly one of six college students killed after surviving the preliminary assault after which being tortured, have requested for an investigation of two different college students — now politicians — who have been the leaders who despatched the group of protesters to Iguala regardless of threats the college had acquired.


The Ayotzinapa case is a tangle of 28 felony instances unfold over seven states. Eight years later, nobody has been convicted.

Santiago Aguirre, a human rights legal professional for kinfolk of the victims, mentioned round 50 individuals are imprisoned awaiting trial. In August, the Legal professional Common’s Workplace issued 80 new warrants, however Aguirre mentioned most simply opened new instances involving folks already in custody.

Nonetheless being sought is the person who headed the early investigation into the abductions, Tomás Zerón, who’s in Israel. Mexico is in search of his extradition.

Because of the torture of witnesses and different irregularities, dozens of defendants have been acquitted of some fees. Nonetheless, a lot of them stay imprisoned on different fees.


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has more and more used the army to construct main infrastructure initiatives and to exchange police within the battle in opposition to crime, arguing it’s much less corrupted than different businesses.

Accusations of human rights abuses in opposition to the army have been frequent through the “soiled warfare” of the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s. They have been particularly harsh within the poor, opium poppy-growing state of Guerrero. Some abuses have continued — in addition to allegations of officers linked to drug cartels.

Within the final 25 years, three generals have confronted fees in Mexico, though just one has been convicted.

The protection secretary on the time of the abductions, Cienfuegos, was arrested within the U.S. in 2020 and accused of hyperlinks to drug cartels. However beneath stress from the Mexican authorities, the fees in opposition to him have been later dropped and he was returned to Mexico, which launched him.

Within the Iguala space the place the scholars have been kidnapped, ties between the army and criminals return at the very least to 2013. In line with a courtroom doc to which The Related Press had entry, members of the army helped an area cartel with weapons and coaching for its hitmen.

The testimony of an imprisoned felony suspect mentioned Capt. Jose Martínez Crespo, who was arrested in 2020, acquired cash from a pacesetter of native drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, to assist them transfer weapons. “He used his autos so he might transfer freely by the area,” the witness mentioned.

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