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LATIN AMERICA

Hidden heroin stash may have been behind Iguala student massacre

New report from Organization of American States believes the drugs were concealed on bus

The 43 protestors who were massacred may have unwittingly traveled on vehicle

A poppy farmer in Guerrero in 2015.
A poppy farmer in Guerrero in 2015.

A group of experts commissioned by the Organization of American States (OAS) believes that the kidnapping and massacre of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in September 2014 may be connected to the heroin trade in Iguala, where they disappeared. Unbeknown to the victims, one of the five buses the students traveled in to get to a demonstration in Iguala may have been carrying a hidden shipment of drugs, the OAS report states.

The business in Iguala could explain the  extremely violent reaction and the massive scope of the attack”

“According to the information collected,” the report says, “Iguala is a place where the heroin trade is very important and part of the trade may be using buses to hide camouflaged drug shipments.”

“The most consistent” theory, the experts write, is that the students took the hidden shipment on one of the buses without knowing it, and the drug gangs launched a fierce attack on the five buses to retrieve the cargo. “The business in Iguala could explain their extremely violent reaction and the massive scope of the attack,” they say.

No other hypothesis could explain “the modus operandi nor the level of coordination and violence,” the OAS says. The government’s explanation, based on confessions from detained suspects, is that assassins from the Guerreros Unidos – or “United Warriors” – cartel confused the students with members of a rival gang called Los Rojos (“The Reds”).

A number of other theories have also appeared in the press. Some suggest the attack was motivated by the political activism of students from a rural teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa. In the 1970s, the school was the cradle of guerrillas, including Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez. Other sources say that Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca may have been annoyed by the students’ activism and decided to take revenge.

OAS investigators have stated that the heroin lead must be thoroughly investigated. “It is an aspect that has not been sufficiently considered,” the report states, adding that “some buses are used to transport heroin and money between Iguala and Chicago.”

The Guerrero mountains have been a hub for poppy growers for half a century, and today the state is the largest producer of the crop within Mexico. Heroin use is on the rise in the United States and is thus of increasing importance to Mexican drug traffickers.

Heroin use is on the rise in the United States and is thus of increasing importance to Mexican drug traffickers

OAS investigations discovered that the bus that may have been carrying the drug was “specifically” not mentioned in the prosecution’s official report. The official records mention four buses in relation to the events. The fifth bus was never mentioned until OAS investigators pointed it out and asked Mexican authorities about it. The answer was that, yes, there was a fifth bus but that it had not been attacked. It was, they said, “unused” by the students. Upon request, investigators were shown the bus in question. But, when they compared it with photographs of the fifth bus, taken on the night of the crime, they could not certify that they were looking at the same vehicle shown on the security cameras. “That bus is the central element in the case,” the report says.

English version by Dyane Jean Francois.

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