mexico missing students
Activists hold painted silhouettes representing the 43 missing students, on a pyramid at the archaeological site of Monte Alban in Oaxaca Reuters

The wife of a former Mexico mayor suspected of being involved in the mysterious disappearance of 43 students last September has been charged with organised crime and use of illicit funds.

Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa and her husband José Luis Abarca Velázquez, former mayor of Iguala, were arrested in November after spending two months as fugitives.

mexico missing students
A photo of Maria de Los Angeles Pineda Villa, wife of Iguala's City Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, is seen during the Attorney General's press conference AFP

It is yet unclear whether Villa's charges are related to the students' disappearance, AP reported.

Villa has links to drug cartels as members of her family (at least three brothers) are part of Beltrán Leyva and the Guerreros Unidos.

She had been held under a form of house arrest and was moved to a federal prison following the charges.

Abarca was charged in November with organised crime, kidnapping and homicide for events previous to the students' disappearance.

The former mayor has been accused in the past of direct participation in the torture and murder of activists.

A man who was kidnapped and tortured in Mexico in 2013 alleged that Abarca also executed a political rival.

Villa and Abarca fled Iguala shortly after the 43 students, who were studying at the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College, went missing from the city following a protest they had staged against what they saw as an unfair hiring process for teachers in the country, which favoured urban candidates over rural ones.

It is believed that the students were abducted by corrupt police and handed over to Guerrero Unidos upon instructions from Abarca, who feared the students' protest could disrupt an event being held by his wife.

mexico missing students Ayotzinapa ya me canse
Demonstrators burn a picture of Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto. The case of the 43 missing students have ignited protests throughout Mexico with hundreds urging the president to step down Reuters

The case of the missing students ignited protests, which sometimes turned violent, throughout the country with thousands urging the government to eradicate corruption.

Demonstrators have also called for Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto to step down.

A bone belonging to one of the students, Alexander Mora Venancio, 19, was found near a garbage dump in Cocula, Guerrero state in December.