MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican authorities told relatives of missing college students Friday they had found six bags of unidentified human remains in the southern state of Guerrero near where their 43 sons disappeared six weeks ago.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told families that authorities could not say yet whether the remains were of the students, but the find opened a new avenue of investigation, according to Manuel Martínez, a spokesman for the families.
They were told the remains were located along a river in Cocula after confessions by two suspects.
The students of a rural teachers college went missing on Sept. 26 after a confrontation with police in Iguala, 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of Mexico City. Authorities say the Iguala mayor sent police to intercept the students, who came to town to collect money and had commandeered buses. Officers opened fire, killing six people and handed over the 43 students a drug gang.
Authorities have detained at least 59 people in the case, including Iguala Mayor José Luís Abarca and his wife, who were found hiding Tuesday in a rough Mexico City neighborhood. Searches for the students have turned up several clandestine graves in the mountains of Guerrero state, but the students' families have been left frustrated.
"The meeting with the attorney general was tense, because we don't believe them anymore," said Martínez, who is guardian of two of the missing young men.
Relatives of many of the missing students have been camped at their school, the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, since the days immediately following their disappearance from Iguala.
Investigators say Iguala police are believed to have taken the students to Cocula, where they were loaded into a dump truck and turned over to the Guerreros Unidos gang.
Last week, forensic experts combed a gully below the municipal dump in Cocula, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) from Iguala, but authorities had not said how many bodies were found in the area.
Two days later, President Enrique Pena Nieto met with the families in Mexico City and agreed to form a commission to monitor the case and keep them updated.
But the families have been frustrated both by the government's inability to find their sons and suspicious of its methods. In October, federal officials initially said the students were not among 28 sets of badly burned remains found in clandestine graves outside of Iguala, but later added that out of an abundance of caution they would wait for DNA results from a team of forensic experts from Argentina.
"We're only going to believe what the Argentine team tells us," Martínez said.