Mexico missing students: Mayor's wife charged with organised crime as fate of 43 remains unsolved

She was charged with crimes relating to drug trafficking and use of illicit funds

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The wife of a shamed Mexican mayor involved in the disappearance of 43 students has been charged with organised crime and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors found that Maria de los Angeles Pineda’s brothers were leading members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang,  and charged her with crimes relating to drug trafficking and use of illicit funds.

Pineda was arrested along with her husband Luis Abarca - former mayor of Iguala in southern Guerrero state - in November, in relation to the disappearance of 43 students during a protest in September.

Prosecutors said that members of the drug gang linked to Pineda had confessed that her husband ordered the police to crack down on the students to stop them disrupting an event she was speaking at, before handing them over to the gang.


The majority of the students have not yet been found, but it is assumed they were killed and burned in a mass grave after once student’s charred remains were identified.

Abarca was charged with organised crime, kidnapping and homicide in November, while his wife was held under house arrest. She has now been transferred to a federal prison.

It is unclear if the charges against her were related to the students' disappearance.

Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda

Southern Guerrero is infamous for its violence and drug cartels. Last month a kidnapped Roman Catholic priest was found shot dead, marking the latest in series of abductions and attacks against clerics in the area.

Police officers in another Mexican region, San Fernando near the US border, were arrested last month over their alleged involvement in the kidnap and massacre of 193 people, who were then buried in mass graves.

A report published in 2010 said that police officers had acted as look-outs during cartel abductions, and stated: “165 out of approximately 1,000 state police have been dismissed in recent months due to ties to [drug trafficking organisations].”

Protesters walk holding portraits the missing students in November

The Mexican public have responded to the increasing violence and apparent police/cartel cooperation by demanding justice and freedom from the drug gangs. In November, Mexico City saw mass demonstrations pleading with the government to find the 43 missing students.

Additional reporting by AP