student march
© www.telesurtv.net
Students strike and hold rally outside Attorney General headquarters, one of many actions taking place around the world.
The detention of the fugitive mayor and his wife, who are suspected of being behind the disappearance of 43 student teachers in the southern Mexican city of Iguala six weeks ago, in coordination with a local drug trafficking gang, has raised hopes that the missing will soon be found.

"This was the missing piece," said Felipe de la Cruz, the father of one of the missing students. "This arrest will help us find our kids. It was the government who took our kids."

Mayor Abarca
© www.veooz.com
Iguala Mayor Abarca
Abarca and his wife, María de los Angeles Piñeda, were detained in the early hours of Tuesday in Mexico City by the federal authorities. They were immediately taken to the office of the attorney general for questioning and medical tests.

The government is under enormous pressure to find the students as a first step towards quelling the outrage triggered by the events in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero.

The disappearance of the students has highlighted both the degree of collusion of some local authorities around Mexico with organised crime, as well as federal tolerance of this. There have been numerous large emotional demonstrations demanding more action to find the students, as well as a few violent attacks on government buildings. More protests are planned for this week.

Last month the attorney general, Jesús Murillo, said that Abarca ordered the municipal police to "confront the students" on the night of 26 September, when he learned they were in town commandeering busses. The students are from the radical Ayotzinapa teacher training college about two hours drive away, and regularly hijack busses to use in protests.

Murillo said Abarca's order stemmed from fears that the students were planning to disrupt an event centered around a speech his wife was giving, designed to promote her bid to replace him as mayor in the next elections in 2015.
Police first opened fire on the buses carrying the students in a series of attacks that left six people dead, including three students. Amid the chaos, dozens of students were arrested after which, Murillo said, they were handed over to members of a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos.
In an interview the day after the events, Abarca had said he was not aware of the gravity of what was going on that night because he was dancing with his wife and then dining with his family.

The mayor and his wife went into hiding on 30 September, at the same time as reports began to surface of Abarca's meteoric rise from hat salesman to wealthy businessman, as well as allegations of the way, together with Piñeda, he had governed Iguala in close coordination with Guerreros Unidos since taking office as mayor in 2012.

The drug gang, said to control a significant amount of opium poppy production in the mountains around Iguala, reportedly set up checkpoints at the entrance to the city to keep out rival gangs.Guerreros Unidos is one of several offshoots of the once-powerful Beltrán-Leyva cartel that has fallen apart in recent years following the arrest or death of its top leaders. Two of Piñeda's brothers, said to be members of the Beltrán-Leyva cartel, were killed in 2009. A third brother was also allegedly high up in the gang.

It was not immediately clear how Abarca and Piñeda were eventually tracked down to the working-class district of Iztapalapa in Mexico City, where they were finally arrested on Tuesday.

Local media published photographs of the very modest house where they reportedly spent their last few days of freedom. One image shows eight small dogs in an almost unfurnished room.Neighbours, looking nervous as they were interviewed by TV journalists at the scene, said they had seen and heard nothing of the raid, which reportedly involved 30 federal agents.

Meanwhile, parents of the disappeared were reportedly heading to Mexico City in search of any information about the whereabouts of their children that might emerge from the couple's arrest.