Mexico arrests ‘decisive’ suspect in case of 43 missing students

Felipe de la Cruz, spokesman for the parents of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa College Raul Isidro Burgos students listens during a march to mark the 41st month since their disappearance in the state of Guerrero, in Mexico City, Mexico February 26, 2018. (Reuters pic)

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities said Monday they have arrested a man they believe played a decisive role in the disappearance and suspected massacre of 43 students in 2014.

The suspect, identified as Erick Uriel “N,” is a member of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, and “is identified in the investigation as one of those who played a decisive role” in the students’ disappearance in the southern city of Iguala, prosecution official Alfredo Higuera told a press conference.

“Shortly after the events in the streets of Iguala… (the suspect) was in direct contact with the students,” he said.

Mexico remains haunted by the unsolved mystery of the 43 students, who vanished on September 26, 2014 after commandeering several buses to take them to a protest and then being attacked by local police.

Prosecutors initially said the officers delivered the 43 teacher trainees to hitmen from Guerreros Unidos, who killed them, incinerated their bodies and dumped the remains in a river. The remains of only one student were identified after a bone fragment was found.

But independent experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have rejected the government’s conclusion.

Higuera said Erick Uriel “N” is one of five suspects with a reward of up to US$80,000 on their heads over the case.