COCULA, Mexico – Mexican authorities Tuesday announced the arrest of another suspect in the disappearance of 43 college students and said they were working with the most solid clues to date in finding the youths, centering on a mass grave at a trash dump near the city of Iguala.
The latest arrest brings to 57 the number of people detained in connection with the Sept. 26 incident in which the students were last seen being led away by local police after a clash that killed six people.
Two of the more recently captured suspects confessed to “direct participation” in the disappearances, said Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, without offering details. Their information, he said, led investigators to the trash dump outside the town of Cocula, about 15 miles southwest of Iguala in rugged, hostile terrain in Guerrero state.
Remains have been found at the site, and Murillo said Mexican forensic specialists, along with a world-renowned team of Argentine experts brought in at the families’ request, are examining them. They hope to determine whether the remains are those of the students – all men whose average age is about 20.
Murillo and his lead investigator, Tomas Zeron, went to the Cocula site, fueling speculation that the long search for the students was over.
The burial site is the 11th to be uncovered since the students disappeared. Before exhumation at Cocula, a total of 38 bodies had been recovered, none identified as the students, according to authorities.
Most of the recently detained suspects are members of a drug gang known as Guerreros Unidos, who Mexican authorities say were working hand-in-hand with local police and politicians. Most of the other detainees are police officers, one of whom confessed to killing or witnessing the killing of several students, Murillo said.
The students, from a rural college for poor children of peasants aspiring to be teachers, went missing after being intercepted and attacked by police from Iguala and Cocula, federal authorities say. The police opened fire on the students’ buses, authorities say, killing six people, including a 15-year-old who happened by. The students had commandeered the buses en route to a planned demonstration.
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