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Mexican Government Says FBI Assisted In Investigation Of 43 Missing Students

Sergio Alcocer, undersecretary of foreign affairs for North America, said the FBI provided forensic aid under a counter-drug and anti-crime program funded by the United States.

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Mexican officials over the weekend said FBI agents traveled to southern Mexico days after 43 students went missing to provide forensic assistance under a U.S.-funded program that has recently come under fire.

Sergio Alcocer, undersecretary of foreign affairs for North American, said the aid was provided through the Merida Initiative, a counter-drug and anti-crime program funded by the United States.

Since it was established in 2008 the U.S. has appropriated about $2.4 billion in assistance to Mexico, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. More than $1.2 billion of that money has been delivered.

In early December the #USTired2 campaign organized a nationwide protest against the program, alleging that U.S. agencies have armed and trained law enforcement officers who have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans during their drug war.

The Obama Administration is seeking an additional $115 million for the Merida Initiative in its 2015 budget request.

The 43 all-male Ayotzinapa students went missing on Sept. 26, shortly after commandeering buses in the Iguala, Guerrero. The search for the classmates has resulted in the discovery of a number of mass graves but authorities have only been able to identify one student.

Mexican authorities said the students were kidnapped and likely killed by members of a drug cartel after being hauled away by local police on the order of Jose Luis Abarca, mayor of Iguala, Guerrero.

An investigative report published by a Mexican magazine on Dec. 14 challenged their claim and said federal authorities conspired with local police in the attack on the students.

The article by Proceso magazine said that according to an unpublished government report they obtained, state and federal agents monitored the students the moment they left their school in the southern state of Guerrero.

The report also said Mexican authorities tortured alleged drug traffickers to get them to confess to being involved in killing the students and setting their bodies on fire.

Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.

Contact Adolfo Flores at adolfo.flores@buzzfeed.com.

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