After 43 students went missing in Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to punish whoever was responsible for their disappearance. Shortly after, a mass grave of 28 unidentified dead bodies was discovered outside the Guerrero state city of Iguala. Friends and relatives of the missing students feared that their loved ones would be found among the bodies in the mass grave. However, many of them were burned, and authorities said it could take weeks to identify all of them. However, the president’s promise to bring the culprit to justice may come sooner than expected.
According to Yahoo News, gang hitmen linked to Iguala’s municipal police force admitted to killing 17 of the 43 students found in the mass grave. The gang involved is known as Guerreros Unidos, and usually deals in drugs. But on the night of September 26, the gang participated in shootings that left at least six people dead, 25 wounded and 43 more missing. Several police officers were involved in the mass grave killings, shooting at buses that the students had commandeered while engaging in a protest. At least 22 police officers have been detained.
The town’s mayor and security chief have been sought for questioning, but have mysteriously disappeared. According to The Atlantic, the town officials and many members of the police force can be linked to the mass grave and the Guerreros Unidos gang, which has a long history of violent killings and public beheadings.
Since then, two of the hitmen from the gang confessed to taking part in 17 of the mass grave killings. The two gang hitmen explained to investigators that Iguala’s public security director informed them to head to the site of the bus shootings. They were instructed by a Guerreros Unidos leader called “El Chucky” to kill as many students as possible.
“They grabbed 17, took them to the top of a hill in Pueblo Viejo where they have clandestine graves and where they say they killed them,” said Guerrero State Prosecutor Inaky Blanco.”
After the bodies were thrown in a mass grave, the gang members set fire to a bed of tree trunks using a flammable substance.
“This incident is without a doubt shocking, painful and unacceptable,” said President Pena Nieto in a national address. “Mexican society and the families of the youths who are regrettably missing rightly demand that the incidents be cleared up and that justice be served.”
The mass shooting is the worst act of gang-related violence since Pena Nieto took office in December of 2012. Investigators will continue to identify the bodies of the students in the mass grave, said Blanco, using DNA samples provided by close relatives.