Mexico’s armed forces knew that 43 education students who disappeared in 2014 were abducted by criminals, and then they hid evidence that could help locate them, according to a report released Monday by a special investigation.
Evidence obtained by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), an independent panel investigating the infamous case, has revealed that Mexican naval and military officials kept secret that the students of Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were under real-time supervision by the state that led to and during their abduction.
“Security authorities had two intelligence processes underway, one to track down organized crime in the area and the other to track down the students,” said investigators in the report, which is based on declassified documents.
The students were under surveillance because their college, which has strong ties to left-wing social movements in Mexico, was seen as a potential incubator of undermining, the GIEI said.
Neither the military nor the navy responded immediately to requests for comment.
The kidnapping of students on the night of September 26, 2014 in the southwestern city of Iguala sparked national and international protests and remains one of the most notorious incidents in the history of Mexico’s fight against drug gangs.
The official documents reviewed by the GIEI included transcripts of conversations between soldiers and their superiors outlining the students’ arrival in Iguala.
From Iguala, the students planned to travel to Mexico City to attend a demonstration, but were instead abducted by the corrupt local police and handed over to a local gang.
The students were then killed and their bodies burned, according to the previous government. The GIEI later dug holes in that version of events, and the current government ordered that the case be reopened.
So far, the remains of only two of the missing students have been definitively identified. The report did not conclude what happened to the rest of the students.
Mexico’s armed forces have long denied that they have information about the crime and the students’ whereabouts.
Communication interceptions by the armed forces could have been used at the time to track down the students after they were abducted, the report found.
But the armed forces denied that such interceptions existed and did not hand them over, it said.