A mass grave has been discovered in the outskirts of the town of Iguala, where four students were killed and 43 went missing after a confrontation with police last weekend.
While authorities have yet to confirm the number of bodies in the grave — or if it is connected to the disappeared students — the news certainly appears grim.
The young people went missing on Sept. 25 after an outbreak of violence in Iguala. The incident began when a group of students from a nearby teachers college hijacked a bus in what they call an act of protest. Although the students were unarmed, police shot at the bus, killing three people. Later, masked gunman opened fire on two taxis and a bus carrying a soccer team on a nearby highway, bringing the death toll to six.
Sophomore Uriel Ortiz was in one of the buses, and told Fusion that he thought police overreacted.
"The police were chasing our bus, but they never attempted to start some sort of negotiation with us," he said. "All they did was to fire their guns. They were going after everyone."
Local state prosecutor Inaky Blanco, who is investigating the case, has since announced that his office obtained video footage showing police detaining several of the students after the incident. A witness told Fusion a similar story, saying that while hiding under a bus, he saw several of the now-missing students hauled away in patrol cars.
"We saw municipal police officers take them out of the bus and take them close to a wall," one of the students, Miguel Angel, told Fusion." Then we saw how police cars took our colleagues and since then we know nothing of them."
The student group, known as "normalistas," back a leftist political agenda, and have a tradition of political protest that they feel may have made them a target.
Prosecutors have arrested 22 police officers in connection with the case and are also investigating the mayor of the town.
According to the Associated Press, the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre, said that investigators are also looking into the possible involvement of organized crime groups he said may have infiltrated the local government. Such a scenario would not be implausible in the state, which has seen increasing violence in recent months, and has been plagued by poverty, corruption, and drug cartel-related violence for years.
@JaredGoyette is a digital news editor at Fusion.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.