Federal authorities captured a suspected high-ranking drug cartel member who has been implicated in last year's disappearance of 43 college students in the southern state of Guerrero, officials said Thursday.
State prosecutor Miguel Angel Godinez Munoz announced the arrest of Gildardo Lopez Astudillo in a statement, and National Security Commissioner Renato Sales later confirmed the detention.
Sales called Lopez Astudillo, 36, the "intellectual author" of the students' disappearance. He was arrested in the city of Taxco and is suspected of drug, extortion and organized crime offenses.
In November, then Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said it was Lopez Astudillo who informed his drug gang boss, Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, that rivals were causing trouble in the city of Iguala. Casarrubias allegedly instructed him to defend their turf.
The government's investigation maintains that local police in Iguala illegally detained the students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa on Sept. 26, 2014, and turned them over to the Guerreros Unidos gang. Authorities say they were killed and incinerated at a garbage dump.
A recent report presented by a group of independent investigators has discredited many aspects of the official inquiry, such as discounting the possibility that the bodies were burned on a giant pyre at the dump.
The Associated Press