Mexican mayor faces charges in kidnapping of 43 students

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Ex-Mayor Charged in Missing Mexico Students Case

(Reuters) - The former mayor of the southwestern city of Iguala has been charged with last year's kidnapping of 43 students who are feared to have been killed, a top security official said on Tuesday.

Tomas Zeron, director of criminal investigations at the federal Attorney General's office, said that prosecutors had obtained an arrest warrant for former mayor Jose Luis Abarca and 44 others on charges of kidnapping the 43 students.

President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over the government's handling of the investigation. Anger over the case spurred sometimes violent demonstrations around the country late last year.

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Mexicans protest over 43 missing students
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Mexican mayor faces charges in kidnapping of 43 students
Felipe de la Cruz, the father of one of the 43 missing students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college, speaks to a crowd as others relatives hold posters of their missing loved ones, during a gathering in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes to mark the nine-month anniversary of the missing 43, in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A child stands before a memorial made up of empty chairs bearing images of the 43 missing students, to mark the nine-month anniversary of their disappearance, in Mexico City, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
People take part in a peaceful march to mark the nine-month anniversary of the disappearance of 43 missing college students, in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2015. The missing students have not been seen since Sept. 26 when prosecutors allege they were stopped by police in the city of Iguala and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their remains. The students attended a radical rural teachers college in Guerrero state and went to Iguala to hijack buses. The Mexican government has said it is committed to bringing those responsible to justice. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
A picture of Iguala's former Mayor Jose Luis Abarca is taken on a screen during a press conference of Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on November 4, 2014. Mexican police detained Tuesday the fugitive ex-Mayor and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing since last September. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam (R) speaks alongside Criminal Division director Tomas Zeron during a press conference at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on November 4, 2014. Mexican police detained Tuesday the fugitive ex-Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife accused of ordering a police attack that left six people dead and 43 college students missing since last September. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: A sign with the face of one of the missing students in Ayotzinapa is seen while students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man is carried during a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate against the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City, on November 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of people angry at the presumed massacre of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, many chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation in another day of nationwide protests. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch from a window a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers escort a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers escort a march over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexicans angry over case of 43 missing students join in mass protest in capital http://t.co/xL2lbpJNJG http://t.co/JAh0pxgM3K
People take part in a march protesting over the presumed massacre of 43 students, in Mexico City on November 20, 2014. It is the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006. AFP PHOTO/Yuri Cortez (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Tens Of Thousands March For 43 Missing Mexican College Students http://t.co/JlfwnAO4L7 https://t.co/4IRCGpAyIl
Angry Mexicans protest over 43 missing students http://t.co/AguPV9Gypj via @AP http://t.co/GYUsX2JGxk
­č漭čôĚ­čĺą Mass protests all over Mexico for the 43 missing students on the anniv. of the Mexican Revolution #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/YOOCRpnW3v
Couple hundred demonstrating in Redwood City over the 43 missing Mexican students. #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/rTwVk5TSZn
In Mexico City demonstrators burn an effigy of presidnt @EPN, protesting for the 43 missing students from #Ayotzinapa http://t.co/Iox9xan4dC
Protesters block roads demanding justice for 43 missing students in Mexico http://t.co/PWlMfifPIF http://t.co/75NraD0z0j
Thousands marched again in Mexico demanding the appearance of the 43 missing students. #Acci├│nGlobalporAyotzinapa http://t.co/Yxty0LJY9U
IGUALA, MEXICO - JANUARY 12: Protestors demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa stage clash with police in front of the 27th infantry battalion headquarters in Iguala, Mexico on January 12, 2015. Trucks are damaged and set on fire during protest. (Photo by Eric Chavelas Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IGUALA, MEXICO - JANUARY 12: Protestors demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa stage clash with police in front of the 27th infantry battalion headquarters in Iguala, Mexico on January 12, 2015. Trucks are damaged and set on fire during protest. (Photo by Eric Chavelas Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A truck in flames burned by angry people during a protest demanding justice and clarification of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, on January 12, 2015, at the 35th Military Zone, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero State, Mexico. Students and relatives of 43 missing aspiring teachers stormed a Mexican military base on Monday in the city where they vanished, prompting soldiers to repel them with tear gas. The protesters traveled to Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, to demand to search the barracks because they believe the missing young men may have been hidden there. AFP PHOTO/ JESUS GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JESUS GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 05: A man shows a student's picture during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero on November 05, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Ex mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured yesterday by Federal forces in Mexico city, both Abarca and Pineda are suspected as masterminds in the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 05: People march on Reforma Avenue during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero on November 05, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Ex mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured yesterday by Federal forces in Mexico city, both Abarca and Pineda are suspected as masterminds in the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Signs with the faces of the missing students of Ayotzinapa is seen while students block access to the Mexican Attorney General's office during a demonstration to ask for justice for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa in Mexican state of Guerrero, on November 06, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. Former Mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured on Tuesday by Federal forces in Mexico City. They are both suspected as masterminds of the disappearance of the students. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)
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Zeron did not specify when the warrant was obtained, but it appeared to be the first charges filed against Abarca that are directly related to the students' disappearance even though authorities have said the mayor and his wife were the masterminds of the kidnappings since October.

Zeron spoke to reporters after meeting with family members of the missing students.

The students were allegedly abducted by police working with a local drug gang in the southwestern city of Iguala on the night of Sept. 26. On Monday, the federal courts authority said a judge had ruled Abarca's wife will stand trial for links to organized crime.

Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda were captured by federal police in Mexico City in November.

Abarca was already facing charges of links to organized crime as well as kidnapping and murder charges related to other cases besides the students.

(Reporting by Noe Torres and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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