Three Mexican film students whose disappearance last month sparked large-scale protests in the city of Guadalajara were beaten, killed and their bodies dissolved in acid, Mexican authorities said Monday.
Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the gruesome crime, said officials of the attorney general’s office in Jalisco State, which includes Guadalajara. Arrest warrants have been issued for six other suspects.
The investigation is continuing, the Jalisco State Attorney-General, Raul Sanchez, told reporters in a videotaped news conference providing shocking new details on the closely watched case.
Prosecutors blamed a “criminal group,” which they believe to be the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel, for the crime. Dissolving human remains in acid to conceal traces of slain victims is a tactic associated with drug cartels in Mexico.
Why the three young men were targeted has been a matter of intense speculation since their disappearance March 19.
None of the three had any known link to criminal gangs, authorities stressed. But on Monday investigators revealed what they called a probable motive for their abduction and slayings.
According to official accounts, on the day of their disappearance, the three students had been doing schoolwork in a house in Tonala, a Guadalajara suburb, associated with a major criminal figure.
The house belonged to the aunt of one of the students, authorities said. Rival traffickers were “watching” the house, and the presence of the three men probably aroused suspicions, authorities said.
Heavily armed men who identified themselves as police officers later led the three away from their vehicle, which had stopped because of a mechanical problem, according to witness accounts.
Jalisco state in central-west Mexico is home turf of a number of organised crime syndicates, including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, considered among Mexico’s fastest-growing and most violent.
Authorities said genetic evidence found at two of three homes linked to the crime provided a forensic connection to the students — Javier Salomon Aceves, 25; Jesus Daniel Diaz, 20; and Marco Garcia Avalos, 20. All studied at the University of Audiovisual Media in Guadalajara.