The governor of the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero said that there are signs that the 43 missing college students are still alive.
Guerrero Gov. Rogelio Ortega said in an interview with local media that the classmates of the missing students told him that the students were alive. Ortega did not say how the students know their classmates were alive, but added that on the night of the disappearance the group was divided into two with one set being taken into the mountains around Guerrero.
“There are indications that they may be alive. Students from Ayotzinapa [the same college] have told me they are still alive," said Rogelio Ortega in an interview with Adela Micha. “There are signs, but there is a high probability that they are alive.”
The 43 students from a local teacher’s college disappeared after a clash with police in Iguala, about 80 miles southwest of Mexico City. After detaining the students, local police officers allegedly took them to a police station and then on to Cocula, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said earlier this month.
At some point, the students were loaded onto the back of a dump truck and – apparently still alive – taken to an area outside of Iguala.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the missing Iguala Mayor José Luís Abarca and his wife, María de los Angeles Piñeda, on allegations that they ordered two local police forces to stop the students from disrupting a political event the day of the disappearance.
Piñeda reportedly has ties to the local Guerreros Unidos gang and dozens of police officers with links to the gang are part of the 56 people already arrested in connection to the incident. An arrested gang leader claimed that Piñeda was “the main operator of criminal activities" in Iguala and that the mayor received payments of 2 million to 3 million pesos ($150,000-$220,000) every few weeks, as a bribe and to pay off his corrupt police force.
“Organized crime strategies in the state always seem to involve the mayor and the police chief,” Adam Isacson, a senior associate for Regional Security Policy at the Washington Office on Latin America told Fox News Latino earlier this week. “Sometimes they are even the capos of the gangs.”
Protesters last week burned down Iguala’s city hall and Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre stepped down under heavy criticism of the state's handling of the case and its political support of Abarca. Also last week, tens of thousands marched down Mexico City's main avenue demanding the return of the missing students.
The protests have even extended to New York City, where a group of Mexican-Americans have shown up at the Mexican consulate to urge the government do more to find the missing students and demand that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto step down over the growing scandal.