09/06/11- In an update on last week’s Monterrey Casino attack that President Calderón deemed “an abhorrent act of terror and barbarism”, the Mexican Attorney General’s office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) reported that a Nuevo León state police officer was part of the group of Los Zetas cartel members who started the inferno. The attack, which killed 52 people, was investigated through surveillance footage from the gas station where the gunmen filled gasoline containers and across the street from the Casino. Five Zeta cartel personnel confessed to committing the arson; the police officer is the sixth arrest.
Miguel Angel Barraza-Escamilla, the active police agent, was caught by surveillance cameras pulling up to the Casino Royale in a white Volkswagen Bora, identified as one of the cars used in the attack, immediately prior to the blaze. He was also seen at the gas station with the group of Zetas. Barraza-Escamilla’s involvement and subsequent arrest has led to the discovery of his corrupt acts as a police, his involvement in cartel violence, and claims of extortion. In addition to the casino massacre, Barraza-Escamilla was discovered to have been involved with the kidnapping of a U.S. resident and accepted a $30,000 drug runner pay off in April 2006. Intelligence gathered by the Federal Ministry of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP) in the past few weeks found that Barraza-Escamilla had been active with Los Zetas since 2006.
Caught in the crossfire of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel’s fight for control of trafficking routes to the United States, the Monterrey attack was reported as one of the deadliest episodes of violence since President Calderón’s 2006 crackdown on drug-related violence and drug trafficking. Corruption has run rampant through the Nuevo León police, as the local drug gangs have been known to infiltrate the force; in this case, unpaid protection money was the alleged motive for the arson. More about the Monterrey Casino massacre can be found here.