Missing Mexican students were killed, dissolved in acid, officials say


MEXICO CITY, April 23 (Reuters) - Three missing Mexican students were killed last month in the western state of Jalisco and their bodies dissolved in acid after criminals confused them with members of a rival gang, authorities said Monday.

The three film students were last seen in the municipality of Tonala after their car broke down and they were later kidnapped by at least six people, who tortured and killed them, according to Jalisco state prosecutors.

"Subsequently their bodies were dissolved in acid so that no trace of them remained," the state prosecutors office said.

State prosecutor Raul Sanchez said that two people had been arrested so far in the investigation.

SEE ALSO: 14 killed in bloody 36 hours as violence rocks tourist hot spot Cancun

Another official told Reuters, on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media, that investigators are analyzing more human remains found on the premises of the building where the young men were dissolved.

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3 Mexican film students go missing
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3 Mexican film students go missing
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, place candles during a demonstration to reject the official version about the disappearance of their loved ones outside of the Jalisco state Governor's residence in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 23, 2018. - Three Mexican film students who went missing five weeks ago were kidnapped, tortured, killed and likely dissolved in acid, investigators said Monday, April 23, 2018, a gruesome end to a case that triggered vehement protests. The students -- Salomon Aceves Gastelum, 25; Daniel Diaz, 20; and Marco Avalos, 20 -- went missing on March 19th as they returned from shooting a film project outside Guadalajara, Mexico's second city, where they attended the University of Audiovisual Media. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, place candles during a demonstration to reject the official version about the disappearance of their loved ones outside of the Jalisco state Governor's residence in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 23, 2018. - Three Mexican film students who went missing five weeks ago were kidnapped, tortured, killed and likely dissolved in acid, investigators said Monday, April 23, 2018, a gruesome end to a case that triggered vehement protests. The students -- Salomon Aceves Gastelum, 25; Daniel Diaz, 20; and Marco Avalos, 20 -- went missing on March 19th as they returned from shooting a film project outside Guadalajara, Mexico's second city, where they attended the University of Audiovisual Media. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, place candles during a demonstration to reject the official version about the disappearance of their loved ones outside of the Jalisco state Governor's residence in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 23, 2018. - Three Mexican film students who went missing five weeks ago were kidnapped, tortured, killed and likely dissolved in acid, investigators said Monday, April 23, 2018, a gruesome end to a case that triggered vehement protests. The students -- Salomon Aceves Gastelum, 25; Daniel Diaz, 20; and Marco Avalos, 20 -- went missing on March 19th as they returned from shooting a film project outside Guadalajara, Mexico's second city, where they attended the University of Audiovisual Media. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of three missing students from the University of Audiovisual Media, take part in a demonstration demanding their loved ones to return alive, at the 'Ninos heroes' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 19, 2018. - Three film students from the University of Audiovisual Media of Jalisco state went missing on March 19. According to reports, they were intercepted when they were returning from a shooting in the western locality of Tonala. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Relatives and friends of three students of the University of Audiovisual Media who are missing since March 19 hold portraits of presidential candidates with the question 'Where Are They?' covering their eyes, during a demonstration demanding their loved ones return alive, at the 'Hero Children' roundabout in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on April 10, 2018. The three film students went missing on March 19 when they were returning from filming in Tonala. According to witnesses, the vehicle in which they were travelling broke down and when they stopped to fix it they were intercepted by around six to eight men who forced them into another vehicle. / AFP PHOTO / ULISES RUIZ (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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Prosecutors said the youths were confused with members of another gang by gunmen from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which has become the most powerful in Mexico, according to U.S. authorities.

Criminal groups in Mexico often kidnap, torture, dismember and even dissolve their victims in acid and many of the remains are dumped in clandestine graves.

In 2014, 43 student teachers disappeared in the southern state of Guerrero and the government said they were kidnapped by police who handed them over to a criminal group that killed them and burned their bodies.

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Surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas of Mexico
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Surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas of Mexico
Federal Police officers patrol the beach while tourists sunbathe in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 13, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
A passenger plane operated by Alaska Airlines remains parked at Los Cabos International Airport, in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 14, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers walk on the tarmac to board an American Airlines plane at Los Cabos International Airport, in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 14, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Agents of the Federal Police's gendarmerie patrol on board a SUV in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 12, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record of 39.3 million tourists who generated an income of $21 billion. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Agents of the Federal Police's gendarmerie patrol on board a SUV in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 12, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record of 39.3 million tourists who generated an income of $21 billion. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
General view of the beach and the promenade at La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
The sculpture by artist Octavio Gonzalez 'Paraiso del mar', is pictured at the promenade in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists take pictures on a pier in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
View of the promenade at La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists enjoy the beach at La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
A street vendor sells balloons at the promenade in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 11, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists sunbathe at the 'Love Beach' in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 10, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
A surfer gets out of the sea at the 'Love Beach' in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 10, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Seagulls gather on the 'Love Beach' at Los Cabos, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on March 10, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
A vendor sells fruit at the beach in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur State, Mexico on March 8, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists enjoy the beach at Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur State, Mexico on March 8, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists sail at Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur State, Mexico on March 8, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
General view of the harbour at Los Cabos, Baja California Sur State, Mexico on March 8, 2018. Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourism is Mexico's third largest source of foreign exchange. In 2017 the country hit a new record -- 39.3 million tourists who generated $21 billion in business. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)
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International observers objected to the government's investigation and the case shook the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has seen his popularity decline sharply amid corruption allegations and a spike in violence.

More than 25,000 people were murdered last year in Mexico. Homicides hit their highest level in records going back 20 years. (Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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