04:49 - Source: CNN
11 bodies found in mass grave in Mexico

Story highlights

NEW: President Enrique Peña Nieto proposes giving the state control over local police

NEW: He also wants to set up a nationwide emergency number, like 911

NEW: Peña Nieto has come under fire for his response to the disappearance of 43 students

11 bodies found in southwestern Mexico as search for students continues

CNN —  

Mexico’s leader proposed a series of reforms Thursday that he hopes will help combat widespread crime and corruption.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has come under fire for what some saw as his slow reaction to the disappearance of 43 college students, and for traveling abroad as protests spread across the country.

In September, a group of students boarded buses and vans bound for the nearby city of Iguala, intending to protest about a lack of funding for their school. They have not been heard from since.

“After Iguala, Mexico must change,” Peña Nieto told a group of politicians and lawmakers.

He proposed more than a dozen reforms, including a constitutional change that would give the state control over local police. The plan would be worked out in stages, starting with the states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán and Tamaulipas, he said.

The President also proposed setting up a nationwide emergency number, like 911 in the United States, and said he wants to boost development by creating three special economic zones in the country’s impoverished south.

Bodies found in southwestern Mexico

Peña Nieto spoke the same day authorities announced that 11 partially burned bodies of young adults have been found in southwestern Mexico, just an hour’s drive from where 43 missing college students went to school.

Police haven’t publicly identified the remains, and officials have not said whether there is any connection between the bodies and the September disappearances of the 43 students – a case that has led to unrest over allegations that police abducted them, on order of a mayor, and turned them over to a gang that killed them.

The 11 bodies were discovered near Chilapa, about an hour’s drive west of Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa, a small college devoted to training students to become teachers in Mexico’s impoverished countryside.

Some of the 11 bodies were decapitated, according to Guerrero state officials.

Search for students continues

Authorities say the 43 students intended to protest a speech by the wife of Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca. Prosecutors allege that Abarca ordered police to round up the students.

Authorities say they believe the students were captured by Iguala police, turned over to a gang, and then executed in Cocula, 14 miles away. The gang burned the bodies and dumped them in a river, authorities say, but investigators have yet to link any remains to the missing students.

Mexican prosecutors have called Abarca the “probable mastermind” in the disappearances, charging him with six counts of aggravated homicide and one count of attempted homicide, authorities said.

In all, at least 75 people have been arrested in connection with the disappearances.

Earlier this month, authorities investigating the case said human remains were found in at least one garbage bag in the San Juan River. Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said DNA tests were needed to identify the remains; no results have been announced.

The Iguala incident sparked protests across Mexico, some of them violent. The governor of Guerrero state, who was criticized for not acting quickly enough after the abductions, has taken a leave of absence.

CNN’s Michael Martinez, Mariano Castillo, Shasta Darlington, Rafael Romo and CNNMexico.com contributed to this report.