Things That Matter

New Text Messages Shed Light On What Really Happened To Mexico’s Missing 43

For seven years, Mexico has been desperately trying to uncover the truth behind Mexico’s Missing 43 of Ayotzinapa. After a botched initial government response, a corrupt follow-up investigation and years of agony, the current administration long promised it would get to the bottom of what really happened to the university students. But for years, the investigation seemed to be going nowhere and desperate parents and loved ones of those missing have long been left in the dark.

Now though, it seems the victim’s families may have some answers as new text messages help shed light on what really happened back in 2014.

According to recently released text messages, there was obvious collusion between law enforcement and local cartels involved in the disappearance of 43 university students from Ayotzinapa. These texts plainly show how police worked with local cartel members to capture, torture, and murder at least 38 of the 43 students and teachers from the Rural Teachers College.

It turns out that the students had taken control of several buses on their way to Mexico City to partake in a protest. Now we’ve learned that those buses were in fact part of a drug-smuggling operation—and the students had accidentally stolen the massive shipment of heroin.

A local police chief worked with a cartel leader to disappear, torture, and kill the students.

The transcripts show how the leader of the Guerreros Unidos cartel, Gildardo López Astudillo, worked with the deputy chief of the Iguala police force, Francisco Salgado Valladares.

On Sept. 26, 2014, the police chief texted the cartel boss to let him know his officers had arrested the students for hijacking the buses. López responded, saying he “had beds to terrorize” the students in and the pair arranged a transfer point. Salgado later texted he had 17 other students being held “in the cave,” to which López said he “wants them all.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mike Vigil, a former DEA chief of international operations, said that the text messages strongly point to López long being in charge of operations in the area.

“The new evidence that has come to light regarding the Ayotzinapa case cracks it wide open and provides irrefutable proof of who was involved in the student massacre,” Vigil said.

To this day, very little evidence of the tragedy has ever been found.

Although the Missing 43 is one of Mexico’s highest-profile massacres ever, very little evidence of the missing students has ever been found. However, early last year investigators found human remains which gave hope to the victim’s families for answers. But those answers never came.

The group of students were enrolled at the Rural Teachers College in Guerrero, which is considered a campus with many left-wing activists. The day they went missing, the students were on their way to the nation’s capital to join a protest marking the anniversary of the 1968 student massacre at Tlatelolco.

The shocking massacre went onto spark protests across Mexico, with people demanding justice. Now, with these new text messages, the young men’s families are demanding fresh searches for the bodies and additional evidence to identify all of those involved.

Sadly, forced disappearances and collusion between state forces and the drug cartels are rampant across Mexico. Since the start of Mexico’s drug war, over 93,000 people have gone missing and a whopping 90% of those cases have yet to be solved, according to Stephanie Brewer, the Mexico director at the Washington Office on Latin America.

“During the past three years, over 25,000 people have been declared disappeared or missing and remain so today, according to official statistics,” Brewer said. “That is almost one person every hour.”

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