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Latino Daily News

Friday February 3, 2012

Arrest Warrants issued in the killings of Mexican students in Guadalajara

Arrest Warrants issued in the killings of Mexican students in Guadalajara

Photo: Warrants have been issued to eight suspects in the homicide and of four students and a snack vendor in Guadalajara, Mexico.

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A Mexican judge has issued arrest warrants for eight people linked to the murder of four students and a snack vendor in December in the western city of Guadalajara, Jalisco state Attorney General Tomas Coronado said.

In mid-December, authorities found the bodies of the four adolescents and the father of one of the youths in clandestine graves at the headquarters of the Federation of Guadalajara Students, or FEG, a few days after they had been reported missing.

The victims apparently went to the FEG’s offices on Dec. 9 to demand that the student group lower the fee they were charging Armando Gomez, a vendor and the oldest victim, for permission to sell snacks outside a school.

Of the eight suspects now facing formal charges, four were held in preventative detention in mid-January and therefore have already been brought before the judge in the case for homicide, Coronado said Thursday at a press conference.

Under Mexican law, authorities can hold people linked to serious crimes for up to 80 days without formal charges.

The other four have not yet been detaiined; two of them are accused of murder, while the other two are charged with covering up the crime, Coronado added.

The suspects in custody include three minors who will be tried in juvenile court in Jalisco.

The fourth detainee has been identified by authorities as 19-year-old Gerardo Godoy Solano, who was transferred Wednesday to Guadalajara’s Puente Grande maximum-security prison.

After he and the three minors were detained in January, Godoy acknowledged that he was a bodyguard and assistant of the FEG’s president, David Castorena, who allegedly witnessed the burials.

The other three teenagers told investigators they were responsible for coordinating the FEG’s campaigns at area high schools and confessed to helping dig the two graves where the five bodies were deposited.

In addition to Thursday’s warrants, arrest orders also have been issued for Castorena and FEG President-elect Israel Mariscal after they did not appear before prosecutors to testify in the case.

The FEG, which comprises students at Jalisco public schools, has frequently been accused of demanding payments from street vendors in exchange for the so-called “derecho de piso,” or right to set up shop outside the schools.

The FEG and the Federation of University Students, which is affiliated with the University of Guadalajara, are rivals and disputes among their members - even involving firearms - have erupted on different occasions.