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Wife of Mexican mayor connected to case of missing students charged with organized crime

CORRECTS DAY OF THE WEEK - Mexico's Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, right, flanked by Tomas Zeron director of Mexico's Criminal Investigation Agency, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Sunday Dec. 7, 2014. While showing a photo of the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, Attorney General Murillo Karam confirmed Sunday that one of the college students missing since September, has been identified among charred remains found several weeks ago near a garbage dump. He said the student is Alexander Mora, based on material extracted from the bone fragment and analyzed by forensics experts at a laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria. The mayor and his wife are among the 80 people arrested so far for the disappearance of the students. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

CORRECTS DAY OF THE WEEK - Mexico's Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, right, flanked by Tomas Zeron director of Mexico's Criminal Investigation Agency, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Sunday Dec. 7, 2014. While showing a photo of the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, Attorney General Murillo Karam confirmed Sunday that one of the college students missing since September, has been identified among charred remains found several weeks ago near a garbage dump. He said the student is Alexander Mora, based on material extracted from the bone fragment and analyzed by forensics experts at a laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria. The mayor and his wife are among the 80 people arrested so far for the disappearance of the students. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

The wife of a Mexican mayor whose police force turned 43 students over to a drug gang that allegedly killed them has been charged with organized crime and money laundering.

María de los Angeles Piñeda is the wife of José Luís Abarca, the former mayor of Iguala, a city in southern Guerrero state. Pieda's brothers were leading members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, according to prosecutors. Federal prosecutor Tomás Zerón said Monday that Piñeda has been charged with organized crime related to drug trafficking, and use of illicit funds.

Abarca and Piñeda were arrested Nov. 4 in Mexico City. Abarca was charged with organized crime, kidnapping and homicide in November, for events previous to the students' disappearance. Piñeda had been held under a form of house arrest, but has now been transferred to a federal prison. It is unclear if the charges against her were related to the students' disappearance.

Video footage showed a grim-faced, stolid Piñeda being escorted aboard a truck and then a plane as she was transferred to prison.

Abarca's police force allegedly worked hand-in-glove with the Guerreros Unidos gang. When students from a rural teacher's college went to Iguala to hijack buses on Sept. 26, Iguala police detained them and turned them over to the gang, which then allegedly killed them and burned their bodies. Only one of the students has been identified from charred bits of bone.

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