What's going on in Mexico? 83 warrants issued in Ayotzinapa case – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Eight years after 43 students from a teacher college went missing in Mexico, the country’s federal prosecutors arrested the former attorney general — and announced 80 other arrest warrants for involvement in the disappearances.
The disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students in 2014 sparked international outrage and protests in Mexico, where more than 100,000 people are disappeared, many at the hands of organized crime gangs.
Then-President Barack Obama even offered U.S. assistance and forensic capabilities “to the bottom of exactly what happened.” But the Obama administration was slow to comment on the disappearances and first acknowledged the case 11 days after the September 26, 2014, attack.
The Biden administration has yet to comment on the recent arrest and warrants.
Former attorney general arrested: Jesús Murillo Karam, who served as attorney general from 2012 to 2015 under former President Enrique Peña Nieto, was arrested Friday on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the abduction and disappearance of the student group.
More than 80 warrants issued: Arrest warrants in the case were also issued against 20 army soldiers and officers, five local officials, 33 local police officers and 11 state police, as well as 14 gang members.
Army bore responsibility in disappearances: Murillo Karam’s arrest and the additional arrest warrants came a day after a commission that was set up to investigate the disappearance of the student group said that the army bore at least partial responsibility in the case.
What happened to the students?: The 43 students were abducted in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state in 2014 by corrupt local police, other security forces and members of a drug gang. A motive remains unclear to this day and their bodies have never been found, though fragments of burned bone have been matched to three of the students.
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The Mexican government investigated the disappearance of the 43 students at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College. Murillo Karam issued a report of the case in January 2015 that he dubbed “historical truth,” claiming that the students were killed and burned at a trash dump.
However, Murillo Karam’s report was widely criticized and later debunked.
A group of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is part of the Organization of American States, independently investigated the case.
They found the Mexican government had allegedly tampered with evidence. Students’ cell phones showed activity hours and days after they disappeared. Individuals arrested during the Mexican government’s investigation had been tortured raising red flags about the validity of their testimonies. In addition, the report found the military didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation nor did the government fully investigate a possible connection to drug trafficking.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also released a report in 2018 saying there were cover-ups of torture in the official report from the Mexican government’s investigation.
The new developments fulfill a promise Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made after being elected president four years ago.
When president-elect in 2018, López Obrador vowed that there would be an investigation into the missing students and would “punish those responsible.” He noted the government would also accept whatever the findings say.
“We shall not fear the truth. Our institutions are strengthened with the truth. It is not true that they will be weakened by an investigation. What weakens them is hiding the truth,” Lopez Obrador said in September 2018.
For subscribers: Taps have run dry in a major Mexico city for months. A similar water crisis looms in the US, experts say.
The disappearance of the 43 students has haunted Mexico for years.
Murillo Karam’s widely criticized and discredited report led to the former attorney general resigning weeks after it was published.
Now, Murillo Karam is the first former attorney general to be arrested in recent history. The roundup of other officials is one of the biggest mass arrests ever by civilian prosecutors of Mexican army soldiers.
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Contributing: Associated Press
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_

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