Newly released transcripts of text messages between a deputy police chief and the Mexican drug cartel have finally given light into the case of 43 students that mysteriously vanished in southwestern Mexico in September 2014.

The messages seem to clearly indicate that police and the cartel worked together in the abduction, torture and murder of at least 38 student teachers from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College. 

According to the Daily Beast, the students had commandeered several buses with intent to drive to Mexico City for a protest. However, based on the chilling transcript of messages, the buses were part of a drug-running operation meant to transport a huge cargo of heroin across the US border. The students apparently had stolen the haul.

On Sept. 26, 2014, deputy chief of the municipal force Francisco Salgado Valladares sent a text message to the local leader of the Guerreros Unidos cartel, Gildardo López Astudillo to inform him that he had arrested two groups of students that had taken the buses. Salgado reported that he had 21 students being held in the bus with another 17 students “in the cave”. López replied and instructed him to proceed with arrangements of transfer points for the buses -- one on a rural road near the town of Iguala and the other at a place called the Wolf’s Gap.

Salgado’s messages reminded López to send enough men to handle the job as the cartel leader said he wanted every single one of them. López was cited to have referenced his intentions with the captives as his message read he “had beds to terrorize” the students in. 

The bodies of the students have never been found since, save for a few bone fragments. The mass abduction of the students in Iguala has sparked protests across Mexico. In the wake of new evidence, the victims' families have been demanding the government to launch a new search as allegations have also surfaced pinning the involvement of Mexico’s military in the case.

DEA former chief of international operations Mike Vigil said the messages heavily implied that the cartel leader was in charge and that police chief Salgado had only been following orders.

The story of the Ayotzinapa students is just one of several in the College. The school is reputed to be a bastion of leftist activism where student teachers as young as 18 have joined movements and demonstrations. On the night of the students disappearance, more than 100 of them organized a protest at the nation’s capital to mark the anniversary of the 1968 student massacre at Tlatelolco. The most recent incident has become known as the Ayotzinapa 43.

Salgado has since been incarcerated for his alleged role in the massacre, however López was released shortly after his arrest over an apparent failure of due process. The cartel leader remains at large.

police-4122765_960_720 Representation Image Mexico Police Force darkside-550/ Pixabay