MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities have confirmed that police in the southern town of Iguala participated in attacks last weekend on a group of students, 43 of whom were still missing and likely in the hands of organized crime.
Guerrero state Attorney General Iñaky Blanco said in a press conference on Tuesday that “sodium rhodizonate tests resulted positive” for 19 of 22 policemen, proving they fired their weapons during the incidents in which at least five people died.
Ballistic tests show that the group of policemen participated in the violent events on late Friday and early Saturday, although other arms were also involved, the attorney general said.
The detainees will be presented before a judge, Blanco said and revealed that there were “other public servants” related to the investigations and did not rule out that at some point they would have to “take action for the crime of forced disappearance.”
One of the arrested agents “admitted to have detained five people after finding them in a drunken state” and another acknowledged to “have seen 10 detainees in the courtyard of his police station who were brought by agents of two patrols.”
The students of the rural teacher training center of Ayotzinapa claimed that at least 20 of their colleagues were arrested by police and their whereabouts were still unknown.
“We have no idea where they can be because more than 22 people were arrested by Iguala’s municipal police. There are eyewitnesses who identified the patrols. None of the ones taken by the municipal police have appeared,” Ali, a student of the Ayotzinapa center, told Efe.
The violence started on Friday night when police opened fire on the students who had seized three private buses to travel to their hometowns, killing two.
The next day another student was found dead, although no one yet has been held responsible for the death.
Two of the 22 detained police officers were also involved in the attack which occurred on a nearby highway junction. The agents started firing at a bus carrying a youth soccer team, apparently confusing it with the vehicle of the teacher training students.
In the same incident, the driver of the bus and a team member were killed, and also a women travelling in a taxi was shot.
Although after the incidents the number of missing people increased to 56, 13 people have since appeared in different parts of the state, Guerrero Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Navarrete told Efe.
Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre said that the state has a problem of “latent” security, as “most of the Guerrero police” were involved in organized crime.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the state government had to take responsibility for the violence in the region as it was not the job of the federal authorities.