By MARK LORENZANA
The U.S. government has evidence that allegedly links members of the drug-running criminal group Guerreros Unidos to the Mexican Army, Navy and municipal police of Iguala and Cocula, in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero.
In a report by Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Tuesday, Sept. 27, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) presented to a judge transcripts of instant-messaging conversations via BlackBerry smartphones intercepted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The conversations allegedly prove that members of Guerreros Unidos held meetings with elements of the Mexican military and municipal police, half a year before the forced disappearance of 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Iguala eight years ago.
The transcripts were presented by the FGR to prove the existence of organized crime in the Ayotzinapa case. The FGR likewise obtained, on Aug. 19, 20 arrest warrants against members of the 27th and 41st Infantry Battalions in Guerrero, although three weeks later, 16 of those warrants were withdrawn.
Monday, Sept. 26, marked eight years since the Ayotzinapa case, which captured headlines in Mexico and internationally. On Sept. 26, 2014, the 43 rural teachers’ college students were allegedly abducted by government forces after they hijacked buses to travel to Mexico City to participate in a protest march.
The intercepted chats also purportedly reveal encounters between members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel and César Nava González, then chief of the Cocula police, and alleged bribes to Francisco Salgado Valladares, former deputy director of the Iguala police. Both former officials are currently in prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) gave the FGR a copy of the conversations, which were likewise used as evidence in the Federal Court of the Eastern District of Illinois against members of Guerreros Unidos, whom the DEA charged with heroin trafficking from Mexico to Chicago.
Meanwhile, the FGR refused to summon Omar García Harfuch, head of Mexico City’s Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC), to testify in one of the investigations that it had opened on the Ayotzinapa case.
Mauricio Cerón Solana and Patricia Gómez Ramírez, former investigative experts prosecuted for the alleged loss of evidence in the case, requested the Prosecutor’s Office to question García Harfuch as a witness. García Harfuch was the former coordinator of the Federal Police in Guerrero during the events in Iguala in 2014.
García Harfuch already testified as a witness in the Iguala case in 2016 and has not been summoned by authorities since then.
A second investigation into the Ayotzinapa case was launched by the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) shortly after he took office in December 2018, but justice has continued to be elusive for the family and loved ones of the 43 disappeared students.