Meet the couple that ruled over Iguala, Guerrero

"The Imperial Couple" back in 2012 (Photo:

Many say that María de los Ángeles, wife of José Luis Abarca, former mayor of Iguala, took the main government decisions. Three of her brothers were drug traffickers.

José Luis Abarca and María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa ruled for two years over Iguala. According to the inhabitants of Iguala, the “Imperial Couple” (as they have been nicknamed in Mexican Media),  ruled “as a couple”. Yesterday morning they were arrested in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, for their involvement in the disappearance of 43 students of Ayotzinapa teachers training college and the death of six people on September 26.

José Luis Abarca was born in Arcelia, Guerrero. His family made a living selling hats and wedding dresses. Abarca got into the gold business and in the last 10 years he became a businessman along with his wife. Despite not having political experience, he join the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), won the election, and became the Mayor of the city of Iguala in June 2012.

Iguala is a historic city located 102 km (63 miles) from the state capital Chilpancingo in the Mexican state of Guerrero. It stands on Federal Highway 95 about 130 km (81 miles) Southwest of Mexico City. Iguala is the municipal seat of the municipality of the same name, located in the north-central part of the state. The city had a 2010 census population of 140,363, and the municipality 128,444. The area of the municipality is 567.1 km2 (219.0 square miles). The city is the third largest community in the state of Guerrero, after Acapulco and Chilpancingo.

Many say that María de los Ángeles, who comes from a family with links to drug traffickers, took the main government decisions.

"The Imperial Couple" back in 2012 (Photo:
“The Imperial Couple” back in 2013 (Photo:

In September 2009 the Public Security Department announced that two operators of the Beltrán Leyva cartel in Morelos and Guerrero had been killed. One of them was Alberto or Antonio Pineda Villa, better known as “El Borrado”. The other one was called Mario. Both were brothers of Ángeles. The third brother was arrested in the same year in Tamaulipas. He was sent to prison in Matamoros and was later on released.

Abarca has been accused of nepotism. A local newspaper said that the former mayor hired several of his relatives as municipal employees. All of them together received a total of $ 300,000 pesos (22,088 dollars) per month in salaries.

The former mayor was also accused of homicide. Sofía Lorena Mendoza Martínez says that Abarca was the mastermind behind the murder of her husband, Arturo Hernández Cardona, social leader and fellow member of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).

In November 2013 Nicolás Mendoza, who was kidnapped along with Arturo Hernández, declared that before shooting him in cold blood, Abarca told Hernández: “It will be my pleasure to kill you.”

As its been said, José Luis Abarca and María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa were arrested Tuesday November 4th, in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, and taken to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SEIDO).