Mexico Says Disappearance of 43 Students Was a ‘Crime of the State’

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Mr. Encinas revealed that the government had issued arrest warrants for 33 former officials linked to the case, but he declined to give their names, saying the investigation was ongoing.

On Friday, the Mexican prosecutor’s office said it had arrested the country’s former attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, who oversaw the cover-up of the students’ disappearance. Mr. Murillo was arrested outside his home on charges of “forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the ‘Ayotzinapa’ case,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

On the night they vanished, the students had commandeered a number of buses — a tradition that was largely tolerated by local bus companies — to transport their peers to a demonstration in Mexico City commemorating another student tragedy: the 1968 Taltelolco massacre, when dozens of protesters were gunned down by government forces.

But soon after taking the buses in the town of Iguala in Guerrero State, south of Mexico City, the students were intercepted by municipal police officers and other gunmen, who forced them off the vehicles, shot some of them and took the rest away into the night. After that, little is known about what happened.

Around 10:45 p.m. that night, “after the acts of violence and persecution, the order was given for the students to be disappeared,” the commission’s report states, without indicating who had issued the command.

Although law enforcement was known to have been involved in the students’ disappearance, a local drug cartel called the Guerreros Unidos was also a key player in the disappearance, according to the authorities, with “a large number of sicarios,” or hitmen, working “with the support of different municipal police and agents of the state.”

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