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World

Mexican Mayor, Wife Arrested In Connection With Missing Students

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Mexico, federal police arrested the fugitive mayor of the southern town of Iguala together with his wife early today. The two are wanted in the disappearance of students from a rural teaching college in September. Authorities say they were hiding out in a rented house in a Mexico City suburb. The mayor is thought to have ordered an attack that left six students dead, dozens injured and 43 others kidnapped. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: They had been Mexico's most-wanted couple. But early this morning, a federal police spokesman says the hunt for Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, finally ended. The two were pulled from a house in the Iztapalapa neighborhood of Mexico City around 4 in the morning without incident. The mayor is charged with several federal accounts, including homicide and attempted homicide. President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the capture to business and political leaders gathered at the official residence for a previously-scheduled event.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: I am hopeful that this arrest will decisively contribute to the current investigation, said Pena Nieto to a long applause from the audience. The case had been the biggest security crisis in the president's administration. Authorities had been searching for the mayor and his wife for weeks. The two fled just days after the September 26 attack on the students in Iguala. Mexico's attorney general says the mayor ordered that attack and that his wife is a major operator in the trafficking organization known as Guerreros Unidos.

Six people were killed in the attack, dozens injured, and the 43 students were taken away by local police officers, all on the payroll of the drug gang. The students' disappearance has highlighted the level of corruption and infiltration of drug traffickers not only in Iguala's city hall but in other police forces and municipalities throughout the southern state of Guerrero. The governor of Guerrero was forced to resign last month over the case. Nearly every day since the students' disappearance, protesters have held demonstrations throughout the country, with many ending violently. Today masked students took over several shopping centers in Guerrero's most famous tourist spot, Acapulco. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.