Forensics Discredit Mexico’s Investigation Into Missing Students Case

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A new report by an international forensics team has cast further doubt on the government’s version of what happened to the 43 students who went missing in Guerrero, Mexico in September 2014.

In a report (pdf) released earlier this week, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense – EAAF) stated there is no physical evidence to suggest the missing students were burned at a trash dump in the town of Cocula, as the government has alleged. According to authorities, students from a rural teacher’s college were abducted by local police and handed over to criminal group the Guerreros Unidos, who then took the students to the dump where their bodies were subsequently burned. 

But both the EAAF and an independent investigative team commissioned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have now concluded that the students could not have been burned at the trash dump. The EAAF and the IACHR agree that the damage found at the dump does not correspond with the extremely high temperatures that would have been required to burn 43 bodies. 

The EAAF also found the remains of at least one individual at the dump that it determined does not belong to any of the missing students.   

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite an exhaustive investigation and a huge amount of pressure on the government to bring the missing students case to a satisfying conclusion, outside experts have questioned the authorities’ findings at nearly every turn. Officials brought in international forensic units in the hopes they would lend a degree of credibility to the investigation, but these forensic teams have provided some of the most damning evidence contradicting the government’s version of events. 

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Almost a year and a half after the students went missing, new revelations are only leading to more questions, not answers. The EAAF stated the presence of human remains at the trash dump unrelated to the students “significantly changes the hypothesis of the investigation,” and opens new lines of inquiry. According to the EAAF, this evidence raises the possibility that other bodies were regularly burned at the Cocula trash dump.

Meanwhile, the mystery only deepens regarding what happened to the students, and the reason for why they were abducted. Alternative theories have been presented, but none have provided any conclusive evidence or closure to a case that has earned international attention.

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