More mass graves found in Mexico, body of student exhumed by investigators

Altar for slain student Julio Cesar Mondragon at his former school in Ayotzinapa, Mexico.

Altar for slain student Julio Cesar Mondragon at his former school in Ayotzinapa, Mexico.  (ap)

Mexican and Argentine experts on Wednesday began exhuming the body of a student who was found dead with his face skinned off the morning after 43 of his colleagues disappeared at the hands of police and a drug gang.

Julio César Mondragón's remains will undergo new testing after an independent commission formed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determined that a first autopsy was marred by inconsistencies and contradictions. Mondragón's family has also demanded new tests.

Mondragón was one of six people killed in September 2014 in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, when students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa came under attack while commandeering buses for a protest. The cases of the three students and three bystanders slain have been mostly forgotten in the furor over the 43 missing students, whose fate is still unknown more than a year later.

The same group of experts has previously dismantled the government's official version that the students were killed and incinerated in a giant pyre at a trash dump, saying the fire described in the attorney general's investigation could not have occurred.

Meanwhile, two more clandestine graves have been found in the southern town of Carrizalillo, according to a local resident, who said remains buried in and around that locality could be those of 43 teacher trainees who went missing last year.

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"We found some graves (Tuesday) when we were digging; there were human bones and you could see clothing in some cases, but we left them as they were because there are now PGR (federal Attorney General's Office) experts around here," Manuel Zepeda told EFE.

He recalled that Carrizalillo, a town in Guerrero state, was once a stronghold of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel and said that gang would sometimes bring its victims to that town.

Zepeda added that in the wee hours of Sept. 27, 2014, local residents noticed unusual movements of between 40 and 50 cartel members and speculated that that activity may have been related to the students' disappearance the day before.

He said local residents would continue to look for more graves but that now that effort has been given a boost by experts from the AG's office, who have requested specialized equipment to facilitate the search.

Zepeda told EFE Monday that several Federal Police patrol cars arrived on Oct. 28 in Carrizalillo to detain the local commissioner of communal lands, Ricardo Lopez Garcia.

But when they did not produce an arrest warrant, local residents prevented them from taking Lopez away and accused the officers of taking orders from drug traffickers.

He also said a man whom local residents recognized as a member of the Guerreros Unidos, which had terrorized town for several months last year before being driven out by federal forces, was riding in one of the patrol vehicles.

Upon noticing the alleged drug-gang member, the residents dragged him out of the car and began beating him until he acknowledged that numerous bodies had been buried in clandestine graves outside the town, Zepeda said.

They retained the police officers and suspected cartel member until Mexican navy and AG's office personnel arrived, he said, adding that "when calm was restored we searched some places and found a grave in a spot known as Los Cacahuates, some three kilometers (just under two miles) from Carrizalillo."

Human remains were found in the grave and will be analyzed by experts from the AG's office, which returned to the town on Monday to gather evidence.

Carrizalillo is located around 50 miles south of Iguala, where the 43 trainee teachers went missing on Sept. 26, 2014, during a night of extreme violence.

Based on reporting by the AP and EFE.

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