With more than 150 bodies reportedly found in clandestine graves and 240 people missing thus far this year in Guerrero, Mexico, it is clear the southwest Pacific state has turned into a hotbed for criminal activity, thanks to a potent mix of criminal gangs and official corruption.
These figures, reported by Guerrero's forensic office, include 43 student protesters who went missing in the town of Iguala this September, in an ongoing case that has steadily gained international attention. On October 23, nine new clandestine graves were found in the outskirts of Iguala; these included human remains as well as pens and backpacks, indicating it could be a burial site of some of the missing students, reported El Universal.
The case led to the resignation of Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre Rivero last week. His replacement, interim governor Rogelio Ortega Martinez, recently announced he planned to create a commission to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the student disappearances, reported El Universal.
Meanwhile, Mexican NGO the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice has claimed that Martinez has ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dating back to 2002. The NGO said that according to e-mails recovered from a FARC leader's laptop, Martinez once asked FARC representatives in Mexico to lend him money. They also claimed he was linked to a group involved in kidnapping.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the Mexican government has invested significant resources and attention into combating organized crime in neighboring Michoacan, Guerrero has quietly turned into a hub for criminal activity. Last year, Guerrero recorded Mexico's highest murder rate. Meanwhile, the disintegration of Guerrero criminal group Los Rojos -- whose progenitor is the larger Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) -- reportedly led to a wave of violence earlier this year, as rival gangs battled for territorial control.
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Official corruption has also played a key role in the escalating chaos in Guerrero. Another splinter cell of the BLO, the Guerreros Unidos, is thought to be behind the recent student disappearances, and allegedly worked on behalf of Iguala's mayor and his wife, who are currently both on the run. Meanwhile, 36 municipal police officers had been arrested in connection to the case as of October 18.