Mexico catches mayor blamed for students` disappearance

Mexican police detained Tuesday a fugitive ex-mayor and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing.

AFP| Updated: Nov 04, 2014, 19:40 PM IST

Mexico City: Mexican police detained Tuesday a fugitive ex-mayor and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing.

Jose Luis Abarca, the former mayor of the city of Iguala, and Maria de los Angeles Pineda "were detained by federal police in Mexico City," the spokesman said.

"There was no violence in the operation," the spokesman said, adding that the couple was taken to federal prosecutors to be interrogated.

The arrests come more than a month since the students vanished after they were attacked by municipal police linked to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang in Iguala, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Mexico City.

Authorities say the officers shot at buses carrying the students and then handed 43 of them to the gang, in a case that has drawn international outrage and exposed Mexico`s struggle to tame police corruption and gang violence.

The teacher college students remain missing despite a vast search operation in the state of Guerrero, where a dozen mass graves containing 38 unidentified bodies have been discovered.

Abarca, his wife, and the city`s police chief went on the run two days after the September 26 police attack.

Authorities say Abarca ordered the officers to confront the students over fears that they would derail a speech by his wife, who was the head of the town`s child protection agency.

Fellow students from the left-wing college near the Guerrero capital Chilpancingo said they went to Iguala to raise funds but acknowledged they had seized the buses to transport themselves.

The mayor and his wife have since been linked to the Guerreros Unidos gang. Pineda also has three brothers who are known members of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

Abarca`s family says he is innocent.

Families of the missing have voiced frustration over the lack of progress in the search and expressed their anger to President Enrique Pena Nieto in a private meeting last week.

The mass disappearance has turned into a human rights crisis for Pena Nieto, whose economic reform efforts have been overshadowed by the Iguala case and an alleged summary execution of drug suspects by army soldiers.

Mexicans have held a series of protests over the disappearance. Some have turned violent, with demonstrators torching part of the Guerrero government headquarters last month.

Guerreros` governor, Angel Aguirre, resigned over the case.

Authorities have detained 56 people in the case, including 22 Iguala police officers and 14 members of the municipal force in the neighboring town of Cocula.

The failure to find the students has infuriated a Mexican society fed up with a drug war that has killed 80,000 people and left 22,000 more missing since 2006.