-- A Mexican mayor and his wife have been implicated in the controversy surrounding the disappearance of 43 students last month as authorities have revealed more details about the mystery.
A drug ring that has been implicated in the disappearance has now pointed the finger at the mayor of the city of Iguala who allegedly ordered police to stop the students from protesting a speech that his wife was scheduled to give, according to the Associated Press.
Now the mayor, his wife and the city’s police chief are reportedly on the run as the search for the students continues.
Here’s what we know:
Who are the students?
The 43 students who vanished on Sept. 26 were all enrolled at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college, Fusion reports.
According to the Associated Press, the school was known for its radical political stance and some of the students had been involved in demonstrations in the town before, earning the ire of Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, dubbed by some as “Lady Abarca.”
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said Wednesday that their investigation concluded that the mayor had ordered the police to detain the students after they were heading to a speech Pineda was scheduled to give.
Fusion reports that the students were unarmed and some—with reports differing between three and four—students were killed when police opened fire on the buses.
Where were they taken? By whom?
Karam said that they were taken to a police station and then to the nearby town of Cocula. The Associated Press reported that the students were transferred into a dump truck at some point during this hand off, though they were believed to still be alive at this point. They were driven to an area at the outskirts of the city, near where mass graves have been discovered.
The leader of a powerful local gang called Guerreros Unidos, or "United Warriors,” told investigators that the group of students were passed off to his gang by police, but they were told that they were members of a rival gang.
The gang’s leader, Sidronio Casarrubias, was caught last week and has been helping authorities, but he has not said what happened to the group after they were turned over to the Guerreros Unidos.
Have the students been found?
Fears were sparked that the students may have been slaughtered when nine mass graves were found outside of the town, but initial testing indicates they were likely other victims from a different crime.
The Associated Press said that 30 sets of human remains were found in the graves, but none of them were deemed matches to the students.
A second set of DNA tests for those remains have been ordered, Karam said Wednesday.
Why did the mayor allegedly hand over the students to the gang?
Abarca and his wife were initially thought to be connected to the gang because she reportedly has family ties to the group, but the attorney general revealed that they also had a monetary incentive to be friendly to the criminals.
The gang leader said that the mayor's wife, Pineda, was "the main operator of criminal activities" in the town and her husband got payouts of 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 pesos as a bribe every few weeks.
The couple is now on the run, as is the town’s police chief, but 52 other people including police officers and gang members have already been arrested in connection to the case, according to the Associated Press.
How has the country responded?
Protests across Mexico have been growing in the past few days with more than 50,000 people marching in downtown Mexico City on Wednesday, Fusion reported.
"Mexico has turned into an immense unmarked grave," one protester’s sign read.
The demonstrations turned violent in Iguala, with some attacking City Hall and setting part of it on fire on Wednesday.