The 43 college students who went missing in Mexico were shot to death and incinerated in a 14-hour bonfire before their remains were crushed and stuffed into plastic trash bags, according to the gruesome confessions of three members of a drug-trafficking gang.
The account came from members of the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization who were arrested last month, Mexico’s Attorney General said on Friday. Mexican authorities presume the students are dead, but Attorney General Jesus Murillo says latest findings are still “inconclusive.”
“I want to be very clear that what we are revealing today is just an update on the investigation. This investigation has not concluded,” he said in a nationally broadcast press conference, which included brief video clips of the confessions.
Murillo said witness accounts lead him to believe the men's confessions.
According to Murillo, the detained gang members confessed to taking the students to a trash dump near the city of Cocula after municipal policemen from the cities of Iguala and Cocula handed them over to Guerrero Unidos.
“We received a group of about 40 people,” a narco named Agustin Garcia said in the filmed confession shown to journalists on Friday. “Some of them were unconscious or already dead.”
The students were allegedly taken to the trash dump aboard two trucks. Those who were still alive were then shot to death and burnt in a bonfire that lasted 14 hours.
“We made stone circles around the bodies, then put tires and logs on top of them,” said another detainee, who was not identified in the video.
The detainees confessed to crushing the charred bones of the students and putting them in plastic bags, which were recently found by Mexican police.
Murillo said that the human remains found in the bags were severely decomposed. He said he didn't know how long it will take to identify the remains.
“We need to conduct all possible tests that will help us to identify the remains, before we can conclude that these are the students,” Murillo said.
The abduction and disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students has shed a light on human rights abuses in Mexico, where some 20,000 people are currently missing.
The case has sparked numerous protests against government corruption and narco-infiltrations over the past few weeks.
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.