The former police chief of Iguala, the Mexican city where 43 college students disappeared in 2014, was finally apprehended after two years as a fugitive, officials announced Oct. 21. Felipe Flores was arrested while visiting his wife in Iguala, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales told a press conference. Mexico’s Prosecutor General Arely Gómez hailed Flores’ capture, stating on Twitter that it would allow investigators to get “a fundamental statement to clear up the events.”
The government maintains that the students were detained by Iguala police before being handed over to members of a local narco gang, who killed them and incinerated their bodies in a canyon. But the families of the disappeared students increasingly charge the government with a cover-up of the role of federal police in the affair.
The students were from the rural teachers’ college at Ayotzinapa, which has a long history of radical activism, and had been preparing for a protest march in Mexico City at the time of their disappearance. Ironically, this was to commemorate the Oct. 2, 1968 massacre of hundreds of student protesters by army troops at the capital’s Tlatelolco Plaza.
Felipe de la Cruz, spokesperson for the families, issued his own statement saying they hoped Flores’ arrest would help clear up lingering questions about the grim events of Sept. 26, 2014. While Flores is considered a key suspect in the case, de la Cruz emphasized that other suspects remain at large.
Chief among these is the local drug lord known as “El Caminante“—said to be leader of the Guerreros Unidos, the gang named in the mass slaying of the Ayotzinapa students. According to an independent panel of experts from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights brought in to review the case, local police in Iguala talked on the phone with El Caminante at “critical times” throughout the night that the 43 youths disappeared.
Shortly after turning in its second report in April, the panel—officially the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI)—announced it was abandoning its review of the investigation, accusing the Mexican government of impeding its work.
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