Police Collusion With Gangs in Mexico Macabre Massacre

Police Collusion With Gangs in Mexico Macabre MassacrePolice Collusion With Gangs in Mexico Macabre Massacre

Missing students were likely among charred corpses found in mass graves in southwest Mexico and local security officials are suspected of conspiring with gang members to kill them, authorities said on Sunday.

Forty-three students went missing after they clashed with police in Iguala in the volatile state of Guerrero on the night of Sept. 26. The students had been taking part in a protest over job discrimination against rural teachers.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, local officials said that at least 34 bodies had been buried at the site, according to Reuters.

Guerrero state Attorney General Inaky Blanco said two gang hitmen have admitted killing 17 of the missing students with the help of security officials.

He said that 29 suspects have been identified so far, 26 of whom have been arrested, including Felipe Flores, the head of security for Iguala.

Blanco said local police had been infiltrated by a criminal gang known as the Guerreros Unidos, and that Flores had conspired with a gang leader to order the killings.

Police are suspected of abducting some of the students, a local security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Suspected gang members had told investigators that police had handed over the students to the people who killed them, who belonged to the gang, he added. The suspected gang members had also helped the authorities identify the site, he said. However, the state government said it could take two weeks before the identities of the dead are known.

The fugitive mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, is also being investigated for possible involvement in the crimes, Blanco said.

 Pressure on President

The graves have created a major headache for Pena Nieto, who took office two years ago pledging to end a wave of gang-related violence that has killed around 100,000 people since the start of 2007.

Though homicides have fallen on his watch, other crimes have increased, including extortion and kidnapping.

Over the past few days, Pena Nieto’s record on law and order has taken a number of blows, including the killing of a federal congressman and news that soldiers are believed to have summarily executed a group of suspected gang members earlier this year.

Information leading to the discovery of the graves had in part come from the interrogation of local police arrested after the clashes in Iguala, the security official said.

Guerrero state, home to Iguala and the resort of Acapulco, has been one of the most lawless in the country for years.