A member of the Latinos en Accion, a group that advocates for rights of Latinos in the United States, reads a poem dedicated to the 43 students that disappeared in Mexico in September 2014, during a protest on the steps of the Eagleton Federal Courthouse in St. Louis on December 3, 2014. File Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam is the highest-ranking official to be charged in the mass kidnapping of 43 students in 2014 that shocked the country.
The investigation, which has been hounded for its slow pace and charges of a coverup by former President Enrique Peña Nieto, was called a "crime of state" by the investigation point person Alejandro Encinas.
Encinas said the disappearances also involved police, the armed forces and civilian officials along with a drug gang in Guerrero state.
The students from the rural Ayotzinapa teachers' college had loaded buses to attend a protest rally when they were attacked by police and other gunmen. Murillo Karam, who was investigating the crime in 2015, said the police handed the students over to the Guerreros Unidos gang, which burned their bodies at a dump in the nearby city of Cocula.
Over the years of the investigation, authorities have recovered the bodies of three of the missing students.
"There is no indication the students are alive," Encinas said, according to CNN. "On the contrary, all the testimonies and evidence prove they were cunningly killed and disappeared."
Maureen Meyer, the vice president of programs at the Washington Office on Latin America, said Murillo Karam's arrest Friday was a positive step forward in the long-running investigation.
"[The arrest] is a clear sign of the National Prosecutor's Office's interest in fully investigating the obstruction of justice and human rights violations that occurred and holding officials at all levels accountable for their illegal actions," Meyer said, according to The Washington Post.