Friday, January 6, 2012

Casino attack boss arrested in Nuevo León

The boss of a local Los Zetas cell said to have orchestrated last year's arson attack against the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Mexico has been arrested.

Authorities in Nuevo León state took Baltazar Saucedo Estrada, 48, known as "Los Mataperros," into custody yesterday afternoon. Fifty-two persons, most of them women, died in the brazen August 25 attack, which was launched in broad daylight on a busy Monterrey street. Many of the victims ran to interior rooms of the casino to escape what they thought would be gunfire, and were trapped by heavy black smoke which prevented them from finding their way to exits. Police say the motive was the owners' refusal to pay extortion demands.

More than a dozen Zeta members participated in the attack, spreading gasoline on the main gaming floor and in the entrance area. Police allege that Estrada was on the scene, supervising the operation to ensure that the orders he had received from higher-ups in the organization were carried out. The casino had no private security force on duty, and the arsonists did their work and drove off in less than five minutes. One of the casino owners who had rejected the Zeta demands fled to the United States within hours.

The state prosecutor says that Estrada is a leader of a local Zeta cell, and is wanted in connection with other homicide investigations. Cash, drugs and a list of extortion victims were found in the stolen vehicle he was driving, which was stopped only because the license plate was precariously dangling. A 15 million peso ($1.1 million USD) reward had been offered for his arrest.

Extortion in Mexico - one way it's done:
Extortion on a grand scale:

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