MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s General Prosecutor’s Office (FGR) said on Tuesday it is seeking the arrest of 46 officials in the southern state of Guerrero in connection with the notorious 2014 disappearance of 43 trainee teachers.
The FGR, an autonomous body for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes, said the move marks a new stage in the investigation it launched after a probe conducted during former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration was widely questioned.
“Yesterday, the FGR asked a (federal judge) to issue 46 arrest warrants against public officials from different municipalities in Guerrero state,” Mexico’s general prosecutor, Alejandro Gertz Manero, said in a brief statement to the media.
The top prosecutor added that all of the officials are accused of forced disappearance and of involvement in organized crime.
“These crimes hadn’t even been investigated or brought to court in the proceedings that had been carried out by” the now-defunct Attorney General’s Office (PGR), Gertz Manero said, referring to a body that had been part of the executive branch and had come under criticism for a lack of independence and results.
He said these arrest warrants would be in addition to others obtained on March 10 against former PGR officials.
Gertz Manero recalled that one of those earlier warrants targeted Tomas Zeron, the controversial ex-head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, a body overseen by the PGR. Zeron, who has fled Mexico, in being sought for extradition under an Interpol Red Notice.
He also noted that Jose Angel “N,” alias El Mochomo, a suspected leader of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel and key suspect in the Ayotzinapa case, was arrested on Monday.
On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a rural, all-male teacher training college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in the southern city of Iguala after they had commandeered buses (a traditional practice) to travel to Mexico City for a protest.
Six people – including three students – were killed, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted and are presumed dead.
Peña Nieto’s administration concluded in early 2015 that the students had been killed by members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang after being abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of Iguala’s corrupt mayor, and that their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump in the nearby town of Cocula.
It called that official version of events “the historical truth.”
But a group of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) experts who examined the case said in December 2015 that the bodies could not have been disposed of in that way and that state and federal security forces were aware of the attack but made no effort to protect the students.
Amid widespread dissatisfaction over the previous administration’s findings, current Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reopened an investigation into the case after his inauguration in late 2018.
“Our investigation is continuing, and by the end of this week we hope to be able to prosecute other officials at different levels,” Gertz Manero said.
He added that human remains found since the new investigation was launched have been sent to Austria’s University of Innsbruck for review.
“Results are expected immediately,” the prosecutor said, adding that “the historical truth is over.”