Mexico nabs a suspected mastermind of apparent massacre of 43 students: Source

Relatives carry photos of some of the 43 missing students at a march in Mexico City.
Relatives carry photos of some of the 43 missing students at a march in Mexico City.REUTERS

ACAPULCO, Mexico (REUTERS) - Mexico has caught one of the supposed masterminds behind the apparent massacre of 43 student teachers last year, a police source said on Thursday, potentially raising hopes more will come to light in an incident still shrouded in mystery.

Federal police caught Gildardo Lopez, alias "El Gil," on Wednesday in the tourist town of Taxco, in the southwestern state of Guerrero, the source added, declining to be named given sensitivities around the case.

Prosecutors identify Lopez as a senior member of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel and say he gave the order to incinerate the student teachers on the night of Sept 26 last year near the town of Iguala, Guerrero.

However, international experts say the government's account does not add up.

In a report released earlier this month, they identified deep flaws in the official investigation and rejected its central claim that the victims were incinerated in a garbage dump in Cocula, near Iguala.

The reported capture of Lopez could raise hopes that more details will be revealed in an incident that sparked a national outcry and created a major political headache for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but which still remains murky.

The Mexican government has said the students were rounded up by corrupt local cops, who handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos, before burning them in a nearby dump.

The report of Lopez' arrest comes the day after Attorney-General Arely Gomez announced that Austrian forensic experts had identified a possible match for a second victim.

Previously, only one of the 43 student teachers has been identified from badly charred remains the government said were found at the dump site.

The apparent massacre of the poor, rural students continues to pose problems for Pena Nieto, who took office in 2012 vowing to stamp out years of drug-related violence.

He was criticised for his handling of the crisis, and accused of trying to wrap up the case without a thorough investigation.