The presumed leader of the Guerreros Unidos, the criminal gang implicated in the Iguala massacre and the disappearance of 43 students on September 26, was apprehended Thursday near Toluca.
Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado and another man were arrested by federal security forces on the Mexico City-Toluca highway. Federal Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam said the arrest opens “a new avenue of investigation to discover the truth” about the missing students, who were teacher trainees at the Ayotzinapa college in Guerrero.
Murillo Karam said the gang leader has denied ordering the apprehension of the students, but had not opposed it either, describing it as an incident that happened “by chance.”
The Attorney General declined to reveal further details, but was optimistic that the investigation would move more quickly and easily with Casarrubias Salgado in custody.
The Guerreros Unidos leader, who has spent time in jail in the United States, took over the leadership from his brother Mario, who was arrested April 29 by federal forces. The gang is a splinter group of the Beltrán Leyva organization, and is believed to have been an important supplier of marijuana in Chicago but is now focused on extortion
The crime analysis organization InSight Crime believes there is a trend taking place in which the large drug-trafficking cartels are giving way to smaller groups that are looking for other revenue sources instead of relying mainly on the international drug trade.
A similar pattern occurred in Colombia, where the small criminal groups turned to kidnapping and extortion.
Insight Crime suspects that the Guerreros Unidos might have been providing “muscle” for corrupt local officials, and is more street gang than sophisticated drug cartel.
There has been speculation that the mayor of Iguala and his wife were concerned about student protests disrupting the latter’s plans to run as a candidate for mayor next year when her husband’s term was to expire. Students at the Ayotzinapa college have long had a reputation for left-wing activism.
They had been protesting teacher hiring practices on September 26, the day when six people were killed and 24 wounded during a gunfight allegedly initiated by police and gang members.
Arresting the Iguala mayor is a priority for the Attorney General, and his name has been placed on the Interpol most-wanted list. The mayor, his wife and the chief of police, who was on the Guerreros Unidos’ payroll, have all disappeared.
Source: Milenio (sp)