Mexico: ‘Police helped murder 43 students on behalf of drug cartel’

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Mexico: 'Police helped murder 43 students on behalf of drug cartel'

Because approximately 23,000 text messages have come into the hands of The New York Times, it is now clear that the kidnapping and murder of 43 students in Mexico (in 2014) was carried out by government services such as the police and the army on behalf of a drug cartel. According to The New York Times, the text messages indicate that at the time, virtually every branch of government in that part of southern Mexico was working for the criminal group Guerreros Unidos.

According to the newspaper, the dossier provides an example of the total corruption that the drug trafficking system, and the fight against it, has resulted in in Mexico.

Direct orders

A committee is currently investigating the case in Mexico, led by a deputy minister of the Ministry of the Interior. The file (including text messages) was handed over to the committee by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) only last year.

It now appears that on that fateful night in 2014 near the town of Iguala (in the state of Guerrero), local police commanders ordered their officers to stop and kidnap the bus containing the students. The student teachers were on their way to a protest march in Mexico City.

The police followed direct orders from the drug cartel, according to the text messages.

One of the police commanders also gave weapons to cartel members, while another hunted rivals on the cartel’s orders.

According to the Times, the criminal organization Guerreros Unidos had in fact hired many dozens of government officials as full-fledged employees.

Deadly power struggle

The text messages and telephone taps now also provide some clarity about the motive for the mass murder. The cartel had been embroiled in a deadly power struggle with rivals in the months and weeks before the kidnapping. When dozens of young men drove into the town of Iguala on passenger buses, Guerreros Unidos mistook it for an attack by a competing group.

They then called in the local police to carry out an operation: the buses were taken off the road and the students were taken away and killed. Members of the federal police and the army then ensured that there was no investigation and the case could be covered up. A corrupt public prosecutor later played the leading role, as was previously known.


After the disappearance of the 43 students, parts of the Mexican army and federal police were sent to the city of Iguala. But many of them, like the totally corrupt local police, were on the cartel’s payroll.

Local army commanders were fully aware of the kidnapping, but did not come to the students’ aid. The new information shows that they were also paid large amounts of money by the drug cartel. Members of Guerreros Unidos referred to the soldiers as “whores” they “had in the bag.”

Minute by minute

One of the officers who rushed to the scene of the mass kidnapping after the disappearance had an unofficial second job: gathering intelligence for the cartel. Now wiretaps show he was sending minute-by-minute updates on every law enforcement action to a Guerreros Unidos leader. He called his contact ‘boss’.


Some time after the disappearance, remains were found here and there on rubbish dumps. Most of the 43 young people were never found again.

It now appears that a coroner also carried out orders from the criminal organization. He sent photos of bodies and evidence at the crime scene, which can also be deduced from the text messages. After killing several students, the criminals burned the bodies in a crematorium owned by the coroner’s family, investigators say.

A criminal appears to have told the committee that the ovens were routinely used ‘to make people disappear without a trace’.

Critical phase

After the matter was covered up many times, the committee’s ongoing investigation is now entering a critical phase. Will the perpetrators actually be dealt with in the end?

The power of corrupt military personnel in particular knows no bounds in Mexico. Several years ago, the United States was forced to release a former defense minister suspected in the United States of involvement in cocaine trafficking, under great pressure from Mexico.

Last August it was announced that a soldier was the main suspect in the case, but he was not arrested.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has now ordered the arrest of 20 Mexican soldiers in connection with the kidnappings, some of whom were arrested in June.

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