Human remains recovered by investigators in Mexico are believed to belong to 43 college students who went missing in September, reports the Los Angeles Times. The students were last seen being led away by police, who officials then believe turned them over to a gang to be killed.

The Washington Post says that the bodies “were shot, burned in a garbage dump and thrown in a muddy river in black plastic bags,” which matches up with the testimony from three detained suspects about how the killings took place.

While there is a good deal of evidence to support the theory that the remains belong to the missing students, the severe burning on the remains makes DNA testing difficult. Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said in a press conference that the evidence found “points to the homicide of a large number of people.”

According to CNN, authorities believe that Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala, was the mastermind behind the abduction, and likely ordered it carried out over worries that the students' protesting would interrupt a party his wife was hosting. Abarca and his wife were on the run until they were arrested in Mexico City this past week.

[Photo via Associated Press]