Nearly one month after 43 college students went missing, there's still no sign of them and now prosecutors think the mayor of the town from which they disappeared might have some answers. The only problem is Iguala, Mexico Mayor Jose Luis Abarca is nowhere to be found.
On Wednesday, Mexico's attorney general ordered the arrest of Mayor Abarca and his wife, both of whom also went missing shortly after the students from a radical teaching college clashed with local police on September 26.
According to BBC News, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam accused Abarca of ordering the police to confront the students in an effort to block them from disrupting a planned speech by his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda.
A warrant was also issued for the town's police chief, Felipe Flores.
Abarca asked for a leave of absence from his mayoral post after the incident, in which six people were killed and witnesses reported seeing the students packed into cars. The students have not been seen or heard from since, and neither have the mayor and his wife, who are now considered fugitives from the law.
The same day the students traveled to Iguala to protest against what they said were discriminatory hiring practices of teachers, the mayor's wife, Pineda, was slated to present a report to local officials.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Attorney General Karam said police officers have testified that they'd been told to intercept the students "on the mayor's orders" to avoid any disruption of Pineda's speech. In the wake of the alleged order, police opened fire on three buses the students reportedly commandeered to return home, killing three of them and three bystanders in nearby cars.
Drug Gang Ties, Bribes And Mass Graves
One busload of students tried to get away, but were stopped by police and taken to the Iguala police station. Karam said a local gang leader described police turning the students over to members of the local Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) gang and, after being told they were members of a rival gang, ordered to make them disappear.
Gang members then loaded the students into a pick-up and took them to nearby Pueblo Viejo, where a number of mass graves containing at least 28 bodies have been uncovered. To date, none of the bodies recovered have been identified as belonging to the students. Murillo Karam also said that Pineda and the mayor have ties to gangs, including one that alleged Abarca took bribes from the gang.
Marchers Demand Justice And Answers
On Wednesday, thousands of protesters marched down a main boulevard in Mexico City banging on drums and carrying pictures of the 43 students (see main image above), demanding the resignation of the governor of the state of Guerrero (where they went missing) and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, according to NPR.
Angry protesters smashed the windows and burned several offices at Iguala's City Hall on Wednesday, as many hold out hope that the students had not been killed and might turn up soon.