Forty three students of Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College on their way to attend a protest in Mexico City, on Sept 26, 2014 were passing through Iguala when they were ambushed by police and handed over to cartel members
Wiretaps reveal deep involvement of corrupt Mexican cops and soldiers were involved in Iguala mass kidnapping and massacre of the innocent students by Guerreros Unidos cartel
Paranoid cartel leaders believed the buses full of young men was an invasion force from a rival cartel, as uncovered by the text messages
Nine years after the 2014 massacre in Iguala, there are still no convictions, but investigation has fresh momentum after wave of new arrests
Texts show some members of Mexico’s military and police were on cartel payroll
Suspects arrested include Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, allegedly, the ‘boss of bosses’ behind the Guerreros Unidos cartel at the time of the massacre
Mexican Brigadier General José Rodríguez Pérez and Mexico’s former Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam, were also charged in the 2014 massacre
Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, allegedly, the ‘boss of bosses’ behind the Guerreros Unidos cartel at the time of the massacre was arrested alongside her husband since 2014
Newly reported text messages are shedding fresh light on the unsolved cartel massacre of 43 students in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, revealing military and government officials were complicit in covering up the murders.
On September 26, 2014, students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College commandeered buses to attend a protest in Mexico City, and were passing through Iguala when they were ambushed by police and handed over to a cartel. Cops shot at buses conveying the students who were then forced into patrol cars, handed over to a drug cartel, never to be seen again.
Their remains have been recovered in mass graves in the nearby city of Cocula as well as Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero
Paranoid leaders of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel believed the busses full of young men was an invasion force from a rival cartel, according to a trove of thousands of text messages, the New York Times reports.
Nearly nine years later, there have still been no convictions in the case, and the only remains to be recovered and positively identified are small bone fragments of three of the students.
Investigation has been marred by flaws and courts have repeatedly tossed out charges. The case however, gained fresh impetus when authorities ordered the arrest of 20 Mexican soldiers, including more than a dozen in June.
Montage of photos of missing students are seen during a march in support of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College missing students, in Mexico City, Mexico
One fact that has been established in the case that remain unsolved after nearly a decade is that police, military officers and local politicians secretly colluded with the cartel that kidnapped the 43 students.
Wiretaps show just how much the authorities helped the cartel behind the mass abduction, and what led to it. Possession of the trove of cartel text messages, apparently is key to building the case which has gained momentum under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in 2018 on a reform platform.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], reportedly, intercepted the 23,000 messages in 2014 while investigating the cartel’s drug trafficking in suburban Chicago, but only turned them over to Mexican officials in 2022.
The messages show Mexican police, military and government officials acting as subservient underlings to the cartel, kept in line through bribery and vicious threats. In one exchange, a cartel member asked a local mayor on his payroll: ‘Do you want me to get your whore of a city councilor in line, or should we put him down?’
The mayor responded immediately: ‘I’ll bring him to you. He’s a good worker.’
43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College on their way to a protest in Mexico City, on Sept 26, 2014 reportedly, were passing through Iguala when they were ambushed by police and handed over to the cartel. A journalist [photo], walks past a mass grave for the massacre victims in an alleged drug camp
Mexican Brigadier General José Rodríguez Pérez [photo], is among those charged. He has been in a military prison accused of complicity in the massacre since September 2022
In another message, a police commander says he went with a military officer and a cartel boss to arm gunmen in a nearby town.
When asked whether he knew about the military officer getting a ‘little gift’ from the cartel, the police commander replied: ‘He’s happy.’
One city coroner in the cartel’s pocket discussed receiving cars from the group and declared his loyalty to a leader in Chicago, calling him ‘my boss.’
‘I’ll never turn my back on you,’ he told the leader. ‘You guys are like my family.’
A police officer admitted in an interrogation that he couldn’t resist the cartel’s regular $50 payments, which served as a kind of retainer to keep him at the gang’s beck and call.
‘You say, ‘I’m not going to take it, so I don’t get myself into trouble,’ but then you say, ‘No, wait,’ he said, according to a transcript of his interrogation.
Mexico’s former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam [photo] was also charged in the 2014 massacre. He was since arrested in August 2022
Names of the individuals involved in the exchange of texts has not been released. It is unclear whether any of them are among those charged so far, in the case.
In June, a federal court in Toluca in the central State of Mexico on Monday ordered the arrest of 16 soldiers in connection with the case, at least eight of whom surrendered.
Separately, General José Rodríguez Pérez, Captain José Martínez Crespo, Second Lieutenant Fabián Alejandro Pirita Ochoa and Sergeant Eduardo Mota Esquivel have been in a military prison accused of complicity in the massacre since September last year.
At the time of the students’ disappearance, Pérez was a colonel who commanded the local army base in Iguala.
The most politically significant arrest took place in August 2022, when Mexico’s former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam was detained.
Felipe Rodriguez ‘The Brush’ Salgado, [photo], was another alleged Guerreros Unidos cartel leader arrested in 2015 in connection with the disappearance of the 43 students
He was charged with forced disappearance, not reporting torture of suspects and official misconduct.
He is accused of announcing a false version of events that he called ‘the historical truth.’
According to that version, Iguala officials thought the students were going to disrupt a local political event.
It claimed police rounded up the 43 students and turned them over to a local drug gang, which killed the youths, burned their bodies at a dump and threw the remains into a river.
Although all the students apparently were murdered, it has since been proven that they were taken in groups to different places.
Some were kept alive for days – a fact the newly revealed text message show that police and military officials were aware of, although they did nothing to save the students.
Protesters seek justice for 43 massacred Mexico students
Photos of missing students are seen during a march in support of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College missing students, in Mexico City, Mexico
Also charged in the case is the former anti-kidnapping director of the Specialized Deputy Attorney General’s Office for Organized Crime Investigations, Gualberto Ramírez Gutiérrez.
Mexican officials said earlier this month that judicial proceedings against a total of 116 people have been initiated in the case, according to Prensa Latina.
The include 32 members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel, 49 municipal police officers, four federal and three federal ministerial police officers, as well as seven state police officers.
Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca, was described as the mastermind behind the Guerreros Unidos cartel at the time of the massacre.Guerreros Unidos, was established by Pineda and her brother Salomon, but shortly after establishing Guerreros Unidos, Salomon was arrested in northern Mexico for drug trafficking and spent four years in federal prison. Pineda was left in sole charge of cartel operations.
Pineda was known as the cartel’s ‘Boss of Bosses’ and, according to one version of events, she ordered the cartel and corrupt local cops to abduct the student protesters to prevent them from disrupting a celebration she had planned in the town.
She wanted them to be ‘taught a lesson,’ prosecutors alleged after her arrest in 2014.
Her husband Abarca was also charged in the massacre, but those charges were dropped in a surprise move in May.
Forensic examiners search for human remains below a garbage-strewn hillside in the densely forested mountains on the outskirts of Cocula, Mexico, on October 28, 2014
Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, aka “the Imperial Couple”, were detained in Nov. 2014 over the killings. Abarca who was was absolved of an organized crime charge, Abarca to 92 years in prison for several unrelated aggravated kidnappings
In addition to being cleared of kidnapping charges, Abarca was absolved of an organized crime charge, because prosecutors did not prove he belonged to Guerreros Unidos.
A judge did, however, sentenced Abarca to 92 years in prison for several unrelated aggravated kidnappings that happened a year before, and he remains behind bars.
Felipe Rodriguez Salgado, aka ‘The Brush’, was another alleged Guerreros Unidos cartel leader arrested in 2015 in connection with the disappearance of the 43 students.
Charges have also been laid against at least 14 members of the Secretariat of National Defense.
In the Iguala area where the students were abducted, ties between the military and criminals go back at least to 2013.
Court document state that Members of the military helped a local cartel with weapons and training for its hitmen, AP reports. The testimony of an imprisoned criminal suspect said Capt. Jose Martínez Crespo, who was arrested in 2020, received money from a leader of local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, to help them move weapons.
‘He used his vehicles so he could move freely through the region,’ the witness said.