Crime and Violence

Former mayor of Iguala and his wife arrested in Mexico City

Former Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca Velásquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa. Photo: Economía Hoy.
Former Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca Velásquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa. Photo: Economía Hoy.

11/08/14 (written by sramirez) — Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) arrested the former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, José Luis Abarca Velásquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, on November 4. They were detained on accounts of murder, attempted murder, and forced disappearance related to the death of six people and of the disappearance of the 43 students in Iguala on September 26 and 27, which arose during a clash with police during a student protest. Noemí Berumen Rodríguez, a friend of Abarca’s daughter who is accused of hiding the former mayor and his wife, was also arrested.

Abarca was removed from office on the order of the Guerrero Senate after he and his wife were identified as responsible for ordering the attack on the student demonstrators, and ultimately handing the 43 detained students over to members of organized crime group Guerrero Unidos. The accusations against Abarca and his wife came from information gathered by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) as it interrogated several detained suspects from the Guerrero Unidos gang, including leader Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado. Casarrubias not only claimed the orders to attack the students came from Pineda, but he also went one step further as he named Abarca and his wife as “principle operators” of Guerreros Unidos.

Labeled as fugitives by the Mexican government, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido García explained that the operation to capture the former mayor and his wife began on September 29. After a month of searching, the couple was found in what appeared to be an abandoned house in Iztapalapa, Mexico City. Officials say that upon being captured Abarca expressed, “I am tired of hiding. I can’t handle the pressure.” A little less troubled, Pineda was heard proclaiming, “Let me go, who do you think you are” when federal agents escorted her outside the house.

Abarca and Pineda were handed over to the Mexico’s Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada, SEIDO) for interrogation and holding. After the Abarca and Pineda’s daughter, Yazareth Liz, voluntarily provided testimony to SEIDO, the ex-mayor was then transferred to a maximum-security prison in El Altiplano, State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex).


“Investigation continues into kidnapping of 43 education students by municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero.” Justice in Mexico. November 2, 2014.

Europa Press. “El exalcalde de Iguala, tras ser detenido: “Ya no aguantaba más escondido.” Economía Hoy. November 5, 2014.

Vicenteño, David. “Caen los Abarca; ya no aguantaba la presión: exalcalde de Iguala,” Excélsior. November 5, 2014.

“Exalcalde de Iguala estaba “cansado de huir” de la justicia.” El Universal. November 6, 2014.

Reuters. “Trasladan al exalcalde de Iguala a la prisión de alta seguridad de El Altiplano, en el estado de México.” Economía Hoy. November 6, 2014.

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