missing students
Candles burn beside pictures of some of the 43 missing students, on the six-month anniversary of their disappearance, during a vigil outside the office of Mexico's Attorney General in Mexico City, March 26, 2015. Reuters/Henry Romero

Some of the parents of the 43 Mexican students missing since Sept. 26 last year are now seeking assistance from the leader of a drug gang to find out what happened to their sons, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The case of the college students -- who disappeared after a confrontation with local police in the Guerrero state and are believed to have been handed over to drug gang Guerreros Unidos -- has become a national symbol of the depth of corruption inherent in the country's war on drug cartels. While the federal government has maintained that a local drug gang likely killed the students and incinerated their bodies, relatives of the missing students have rejected the government's account. They suspect that the army may also have been involved in the disappearance, according to media reports.

On Tuesday, several relatives hung banners in the city of Iguala, seeking help from Santiago Mazari Hernandez, the alleged leader of the Reds gang, a rival of Guerreros Unidos, AP reported. In February, the Reds claimed that the gang had nothing to do with the students' disappearance and said that their leader was open to meeting with relatives to talk about the case.

Earlier this year, based on testimonies from arrested gang members and local police officers, Mexico’s attorney general had labeled Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda, as probable masterminds of the operation.