Deputy secretary of security Ricardo Mejía announced the news on Thursday, referring to Rodríguez only as “the commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion when the events in Iguala occurred.” He did not specify any allegations against Rodríguez. A Secretariat of Government’s spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Rodríguez Pérez has retired with the rank of general.
CNN is working to contact Rodríguez’s defense.
Mejía said that a total of four arrest warrants had been issued against unidentified members of the Mexican army. Three of the four have been arrested, he said.
Mexico’s Secretary of Defense did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The missing students were intercepted by local police and federal military forces on September 26, 2014, while traveling toward Mexico City from their teacher’s college near the town Ayotzinapa.
They had intended to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, where government forces killed as many as 300 student demonstrators in Mexico City. But they never made it.
The bullet-riddled buses were later seen in the streets of Iguala, and some remaining students who were on the buses accused security forces of opening fire. But forty-three of their peers were never found again.
On August 18, a truth commission established by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador released a bombshell report concluding that the vanished students were victims of “state-sponsored crime,” alleging that agents from several government agencies concurred with elements of organized crime to commit the killings. According to the report, at least six of those victims were first abducted and later killed under Rodríguez’s oversight.
“It is presumed that six of the students remained alive for four days after the events and that they were killed and disappeared on the orders of the presumably then-Colonel José Rodríguez Pérez,” said Mexico’s top human rights official Alejandro Encinas during the August press conference alongside Lopez Obrador.
The report, Encinas added, alleges that on September 30, 2014, Rodríguez said that “they had already taken care of the six students that were left alive.”