January 12, 2015 / 11:49 PM / in 3 years

Mexico to try wife of mayor linked to student disappearances

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The wife of a Mexican politician suspected of helping to plot the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers in September will be tried for engaging in organized crime, the federal courts authority said on Monday.

Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, the wife of former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, is seen displayed on a television screen during a news conference, while she is transferred to a prison in Tepic, at Nayarit state, in Mexico City in this handout picture released January 5, 2015 by Mexico's Attorney General's Office (PGR). REUTERS/Mexico's Attorney General's Office (PGR)/Handout via Reuters.

The fate of the 43 students has rocked the government, which says they were abducted by corrupt police in the southwestern city of Iguala on the night of Sept. 26, then probably incinerated by members of local drug gang Guerreros Unidos.

The remains of only one of the 43 students has been identified so far, and the government blames former Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda for masterminding their disappearance with the gang.

The courts authority said it believed Pineda had been working with Guerreros Unidos since at least 2005, and accused her of engaging in crimes against health - which includes drug trafficking - and managing illicit funds.

Her lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

The statement made no specific reference to Iguala.

President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over the government’s handling of the investigation.

A federal judge found evidence that Pineda acted as a financial intermediary for Guerreros Unidos and helped protect the gang, the courts authority said.

Between 2009 and 2014, she took deposits probably originating with the drug gang worth about 13.7 million pesos ($936,016) in four bank accounts, the court said.

Pineda and Abarca fled Iguala a few days after the abduction of the students, and were captured in November by police.

Reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Simon Gardner, Tom Brown and Bernard Orr

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