Federal police have taken control of 13 municipalities in southern Mexico where local police are suspected of links to organized crime and possibly to the case of 43 missing students, a top official said.

The municipalities are all within a roughly 125-mile (200-kilometer) radius of Iguala, the town where the students from a rural teachers’ college disappeared more than three weeks ago after a confrontation with police. Twelve of the municipalities are in Guerrero state and one is in Mexico state. Among them are the tourist destinations of Taxco and Ixtapan de la Sal.

National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said Sunday night that authorities investigating the disappearance of the students found “irregularities” and “presumed links to organized crime” in the 13 municipal police forces.

Federal police have assumed control of public security in the municipalities, the police chiefs have been sent to a special center for “certification” and their guns are being tested, he said.

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