STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We go next to Mexico, where authorities say the power of the government meshed with the power of organized crime. Prosecutors say a small-town mayor and his wife ordered an attack in which many people were killed or vanished. Forty-three students are still missing. Authorities say the couple have family ties to one of Mexico's drug cartels. And they're now on the run. They led the town of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMS)
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Thousands of protesters marched down Mexico City's grand Reforma Boulevard banging drums, carrying pictures of the 43 students who went missing on September 26 and demanding the resignation of the governor of the state of Guerrero and even President Enrique Pena Nieto. Holding a poster-sized, black-and-white photo of her missing 19-year-old son, Benjamin, Christina Bautista said she believes the students are still alive.
CHRISTINA BAUTISTA: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: I don't know how they're going to do it, she said, staring off in the distance. But they took the students alive, and they have to return them to us alive. Bautista said her son had just started at the rural teaching college, known for it's leftist ideology and radical protests. She said he just wanted to study to be a teacher and get a good-paying job - something not possible in the poor regions of Guerrero where they live. The missing student's uncle, Cruz Bautista, wants to know why it has taken so long for the government to find his nephew or those responsible for his disappearance.
CRUZ BAUTISTA: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: They need to do their job. Why haven't they arrested the mayor of Iguala yet or his wife, he asks. Yesterday, Mexico's attorney general said an arrest warrant has been issued for the Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda.
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JESUS MURILLO KARAM: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: Jesus Murillo Karam, the country's top prosecutor, also named the mayor's wife as the principal operator of the trafficking group known as the Guerreros Unidos, and that she together with her husband ran for group's illegal activities right out of Iguala City Hall. Murillo Karam went on to give more details - the most he's divulged to date on the case - including that the mayor was doling out as much as 600,000 pesos, about $45,000, on a regular basis to pay off the police.
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KARAM: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: Murillo Karam went on to say that on the night of September 26, as the students were heading toward Iguala in several buses they had commandeered, the order to stop them came over the local police radios - and that it was given by A-5, the codename for Iguala's mayor. Local police intercepted the students' buses and started shooting, killing six people and rounding up the 43 students. According to the attorney general, the students were taken to another police force and then transported to the outskirts of Iguala. Those orders, he said, came from the head Gurrero Unidos, who federal authorities captured last week.
Attorney General Murillo Karam says investigators are still trying to positively identify the remains of some 30 bodies found in nine graves outside Iguala. In Iguala yesterday, angry protesters - many hooded - smashed windows and burned several offices at city hall.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTS)
KAHN: In Mexico City, students marched for hours, demanding justice and revenge. Maria Fernanda Solis, an 18-year-old college student, says it's just outrageous how much corruption, collusion and impunity there is in Mexico.
MARIA FERNANDA SOLIS: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: The government and the traffickers are one and the same, she says. We have to stop it. Many students dressed in black, like these from the music school at the National Autonomous University, said if the government kills students, what is left for the future of Mexico? Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.
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