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In Mexico, Mayor Held Over Missing Students

  • VOA News

People light candles around photographs of missing students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college during a protest at Monterrey Institute of Technology, Monterrey, Oct. 23, 2014.

People light candles around photographs of missing students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college during a protest at Monterrey Institute of Technology, Monterrey, Oct. 23, 2014.

Mexican police have detained a fugitive ex-mayor and his wife, who are suspected of being the masterminds behind the disappearance of 43 teaching students in September.

Federal officers arrested Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda early Tuesday in a house in Mexico City. Abarca was mayor of the southern city of Iguala when police clashed with the group of male students there on September 26.

Abarca and his wife are accused of ordering the police attack to stop the students from disrupting a political event. Six people were killed.

It is unclear what happened to the dozens of students who went missing following the clashes in Guerrero state, but the fear is that they were massacred.

More than 50 police officers and gang members have been arrested in the case.

The mayor and his wife are said to have been linked to the local drug cartel, Guerreros Unidos. Authorities say Pineda was a main operative in the cartel and comes from a family of drug gang members.

Officials hope the couple's arrest will shed light on the disappearances, which set off nationwide protests.

Mexico has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.

On Saturday, authorities say high-ranking security official Ricardo Niño Villarreal and his wife were murdered in the northern state of Nuevo Laredo. Their bodies were found the next day by passers-by.

Niño Villarreal was one of several military officers sent to the region earlier this year to stem a surge of violence in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas. The state has been the scene of a bloody turf war between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels. The two gangs have been fighting each other for control of the lucrative drug trafficking route into the U.S. border state of Texas.

Last week, three U.S. citizens and a Mexican citizen were found dead in Tamaulipas, two weeks after they disappeared. Authorities are investigating whether members of a special tactical police unit known as Hercules were involved in the murders.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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