9 Years Later, Where are the Remaining 40?
On December 14, 2014, forensic experts at the University of Innsbruck determined the remains—a small, charred bone fragment—of a body matched one of the students, Alexander Mora. Where, when, and by whom that fragment was found was immediately the subject of controversy. Eight years later we know that the federal authorities in charge of investigating the Ayotzinapa atrocity had planted that fragment in a location made to coincide with the testimonies of low-level “gang” members who themselves had been tortured by those same federal officials.
In November 2019, DNA analysis carried out at the University of Innsbruck identified another bone fragment—recovered from a site known as the Butcher’s Ravine, located more than 800 meters away from the Cocula trash dump where the government claimed the students were killed and incinerated—as the remains of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre.
The initial federal investigations into the “43” atrocity are now themselves the subject of a major federal investigation for crimes of obstruction of justice, torture ,and forced disappearance. The lead federal investigator, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, is now a fugitive hiding from an international arrest warrant in Israel.
An independent group of investigators, known by its Spanish initials as the GIEI, published two reports in 2015 and 2016, during the Enrique Peña Nieto government’s initial investigation. These early reports concluded that the Mexican government’s findings were a fiction. The panel showed that state and federal police had worked with municipal police to abduct and disappear the students. The investigators also confirmed that federal authorities working the case had tortured most of the arrested suspects to extract confessions and had both destroyed evidence and fabricated false evidence.
In 2022, the GIEI published a third report showing, among other major findings, that Mexican authorities videotaped more than 40 torture sessions and the Mexican Marines participated in the alteration of the false crime scene.
Protesters vandalize Israeli embassy in Mexico City September 21, 2022 demanding extradition of Mexico’s former criminal agency chief Tomas Zeron de Lucio.