November 3, 2014
Hundreds of Bodies Found Near Iguala, Mexico, But Not the 43 Students
Over a month has passed since the forced disappearance of the normalistas (student teachers) of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, and still 43 remain missing.
On September 26, members of the Iguala municipal police and the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel ambushed the caravan of students as they traveled by bus within their home state of Guerrero, Mexico. The students were headed back to Ayotzinapa after collecting donations for school supplies in the nearby city of Iguala.
After a series of attacks, six people lay dead, several students fled, and dozens more were seen taken away in police vehicles. The six dead include three normalistas, as well as a bus driver named Víctor Manuel Lugo Ortiz, a 15-year-old soccer player named David Josué García Evangelista, and a woman traveling in a nearby cab named Blanca Montiel Sánchez.
The three students confirmed dead include 19-year-old Julio César Mondragón, who after running away on his own the night of the attack, was later found on September 30, his face skinned and eyes removed.
All in the Family
Following the attack, suspicions were almost immediately directed at the local city government of Iguala, including Mayor José Luis Abarca, his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda, and his cousin Police Chief Felipe Flores.
Since then, Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam has issued arrest warrants for the trio, naming the mayor and his wife as the “probable masterminds” behind the ambush. All three suspected city officials went into hiding shortly after news broke of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students.
Questions surrounding Mayor Abarca and the first lady of Iguala have intensified in recent weeks, as revelations surface regarding their associations with organized crime. Investigative reporter Anabel Hernández, writing for Proceso, recently provided a detailed criminal history of the Pineda family.
According to court documents Hernández uncovered, three of María de los Ángeles Pineda’s brothers — Alberto, Mario, and Salomón Pineda Villa — were not only members but founders of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. The Pineda Villa criminal enterprise began in 2000, according to Hernandez’s information, and expanded when alliances were drawn with the Sinaloa Cartel in 2002, before a split with the Beltrán Leyva brothers.
In 2009, the Federal Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) announced Alberto and Mario had been killed in a dispute with Arturo Beltrán Leyva, and recently, on October 9, federal officials declared that marines had captured Salomón Pineda Villa in Cuernavaca.
The arrest, however, has yet to be confirmed, and the governor of Morelos, Graco Ramírez Garrido, has publicly denied Salomón was among those captured. When asked for the criminal case number of Pineda Villa’s arrest, the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SEIDO) replied, “We do not have it.”
Since his arrest, Casarrubias has reportedly provided authorities with information as to the Iguala First Lady’s role in the murder and kidnapping of the Ayotzinapa students, and identified her as the gang’s “highest ranking member in government.”
Teach Them a Lesson
The night of the attack on the students, María de los Ángeles Pineda was holding a campaign event at the Plaza de las Tres Garantías in Iguala, preparing to succeed her husband as mayor in the next election.
According to Casarrubias, Pineda received word that the normalista students were in Iguala and assumed they were on their way to disrupt her event. “Teach them a lesson,” was Pineda’s order, says the captured Guerreros Unidos leader.
As Abarca and Pineda celebrated and danced among Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) supporters, a team directed by Police Chief Flores and then Guerreros Unidos leader Benjamín Mondragón Pereda was sent after the students. They were given the code word, “A-5,” to note the order came from the mayor and his wife.
Read the rest on the PanAm Post: Mass Graves, Murderous State-Cartel Alliance Revealed in Guerrero