Police in Mexico appear to be close to solving a six-year-old case in which 43 college students went missing and are believed to have been killed.
According to Reuters, law enforcement authorities recently issued “dozens” of arrest warrants relating to the crime. The head of the investigation said that those targeted by the authorities include soldiers in addition to members of the police force. This is the first time that military personnel has been targeted in the case, which had previously been pinned on drug violence.
“The military participated,” stated Maria Martinez Zeferino, the mother of one of the victims, during the news conference.
The announcement was made at the National Palace in Mexico City, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Undersecretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas added to the emotional weight of the event by displaying embroidered fabric made by the families of the missing students.
However, what was arguably the most touching part of the event was that it was held on the six-year anniversary of when the individuals were first kidnapped.
The victims were members of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College. They had been on a bus when they were stopped by a “security force” and taken into custody, per Al Jazeera. However, when other classmates tried to find their friends the next day, they were left without answers.
“The next morning, since we were told our classmates had been taken under municipal police’s custody, our parents came to pick us up in Iguala, and we went to their headquarters to bail them out,” explained one former classmate.
“‘Nope, not here!’ they told us at the police station. We went to every police station and got the same answer. Where did they take them? We still don’t know,” he added.
At the time, then-President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration claimed that they had received confessions of kidnapping and burning bodies from drug gang members. However, the majority of suspects were later released from custody with authorities citing poor evidence.
Investigative journalist Anabel Hernandez believes that the bus the students had been on was carrying a hidden cargo stash of heroin destined for the United States. She claimed as far back as 2019 that high ranking police officers and military officials in Mexico were involved.
“The problem is there are public officials that were implicated [in the cover-ups who] are still working in the government,” she said. “The federal police officers I accused of torture in my research are still active.”
Though it remains to be seen what will happen following Saturday’s arrests, movement on the case can bring the hope of justice for a nation that has grappled with corruption and tragedy.