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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mexico Missing Students: Guerreros Unidos Gang Member Arrested

Relatives of the 43 missing students protest outside the Attorney General's
office in Mexico City. They are calling for an investigation into the role
of the Mexican army in the case
Police in Mexico have arrested a member of a criminal gang accused of killing 43 students in Iguala in September.

Felipe Rodriguez ordered Guerreros Unidos gang members to burn the bodies and clothing of the victims to hide evidence, prosecutors say.

They say the students were detained by police after a protest and handed over to the gang.

The students' disappearance sparked weeks of protests across Mexico against corruption and violence.

Felipe Rodriguez
Felipe Rodriguez - known as "El Cepillo" or "The Brush" - was arrested on Thursday night in the city of Jiutepec, some 90km (55 miles) south of Mexico City.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam identified him in November as the gang member who ordered the bodies and clothes of the victims to be burned in a nearby rubbish dump and thrown into a local stream.

'Mayor ordered killings'
"His intent was to destroy all evidence of the murders," said Mr Murillo Karam.

More than 90 people, most of them local police in south-western Guerrero State, have been detained so far in connection with the case.

Maria de los Angeles Pineda (C), wife of former Mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca
Maria de los Angeles Pineda will be tried with involvement in organised crime
Members of the gang confessed to killing the 43 and burned their bodies after they were told the students belonged to a rival gang.

Alexander Mora's remains were identified by
forensic experts at the University of Innsbruck
But the remains of only one student, Alexander Mora, have been identified so far, after being taken for DNA tests at a forensic centre in Austria.

He was in his first year of studies at the rural teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, a college with a tradition of left-wing political activism.

Empty chairs at the Ayotzinapa teachers school in Guerrero State
Alexander Mora was part of a group of students who travelled to nearby Iguala on 26 September and, as part of a protest, commandeered a number of buses.

On their way back to their college the students were intercepted by police allegedly on the orders of the local mayor, who wanted to prevent them from disrupting a speech his wife was giving at a public event that evening.

Mayor and Maria Pineda in happier times
They were arrested in a Mexico City slum in November
Federal investigators blamed Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, for ordering local police to hand the students over to members of the Guerreros Unidos gang.

Relatives of the 42 missing students say they will not give up hope of finding them alive until forensic evidence proves they are dead.

They want the authorities to open an investigation into the role of the Mexican army in the disappearance.