Police in Guerrero state, Mexico, collaborated with a drug cartel to kill a group of student protesters, according to the state attorney general, highlighting the often blurred line between criminals and law enforcement across the country.

Guerrero Attorney General Iñaky Blanco said that police in the city of Iguala had handed 17 student protesters to the Guerreros Unidos -- a splinter group of the Beltran Leyva Organization -- reported Animal Politico. Two members of the group confessed to killing the students, and said that 30 officers in Iguala's municipal police were members of their cartel, according to the official.

The protest took place in the city of Iguala on September 26, with students from a local teacher's college protesting job discrimination against teachers from rural areas. Police opened fire on buses transporting the protesters, killing six, then reportedly herded a large group of students into police vehicles and drove away. Forty-three students are still missing.

Blanco also announced that 28 bodies had been found in mass graves close to the city, in the same area where the two detainees said they had killed the students. The authorities haven't yet identified the bodies, due to their state of decomposition.

InSight Crime Analysis

If the attorney general's statement is accurate, the case underscores the often close relationship between state and criminal actors in the region. An arrest warrant has been issued for Iguala's mayor, who is accused of taking part in the violence, while the city's police chief is also under investigation. 

The Guerreros Unidos formed as a breakaway faction of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), following the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva in 2009. The group is engaged in a bitter turf war with Los Rojos -- another splinter cell of the BLO -- and the Knights Templar for control of Guerrero's drug trafficking routes.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profile

The case of the student disappearances also highlights Mexico's dismal record on human rights, coming soon after claims that the army executed 22 suspected criminals. Amnesty International has reported (pdf) that criminal groups often collaborated with public officials to commit extrajudicial killings under the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, during which over 26,000 people were reported missing.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...