Mexican authorities are preparing to arrest dozens of people implicated in the kidnapping and alleged murder of 43 student teachers in southern Mexico more than three years ago, the prosecutor in charge of the case has revealed.
Prosecutor Alfredo Higuera told a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Bogota he had obtained new information enabling him to file charges against 30 people, including local police officers, Reuters reports.
The disappearance of the 43 student teachers on Sept. 26, 2014, in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state, sparked international outcry, battering Mexico's reputation and undermining the popularity of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Guerrero has become Mexico's deadliest state as a growing number of criminal gangs battle over the control of poppy fields used to produce opium, the main ingredient in heroin.
An initial investigation by the government concluded that the 43 were abducted by corrupt police who handed them over to members of a local drug cartel. The cartel then killed them, incinerated their bodies at a trash dump and threw the ashes into a river.
However, an international team backed by the IACHR uncovered irregularities in the case, which undermined the conclusions of the official investigation.
Higuera launched a new probe in 2016, and said Friday that he had developed new lines of investigation.
In a radio interview, Higuera said he had ruled out a theory that the students, who had commandeered buses to drive into the Mexican capital for a protest, had unknowingly taken a bus containing a hidden heroin shipment.
Mario Patron, director of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Centro Pro), which represents the families of the missing youths, told the IACHR there are doubts about the new probe's progress. He also said no new charges have been filed since December 2014.