09/25/12 – On Saturday, August 25, 2012, 200 community members gathered to commemorate the one year anniversary of the 2011 Casino Royale killing of 52 individuals in Monterrey, Nuevo León. The ceremonies began with a mass celebrated in the Iglesia del Carmen, which was attended by family members of the victims, ex-casino employees, community members, and others affected by the attack. Participants marched to the nearby casino at the conclusion of the service. That morning, Nuevo León Governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz held a separate ceremony during which he declared August 25 an annual day of mourning for the state. He promised that acts of “corruption, impunity, and ethical deterioration will receive justice of the maximum severity.” Medina stated that the acts would “not be forgotten, nor pardoned,” and asked individuals to seek justice and not vengeance.
Throughout Mexico, individuals recall the events of August 25, 2011, when armed men stormed the casino and poured gasoline throughout the establishment, using grenades to ignite the fuel, ultimately killing 52 individuals. Originally, five individuals were arrested for involvement in the attack, all claiming affiliation with the Zetas. Many more individuals were later found to be responsible and arrested, including police officer Miguel Angel Barraza-Escamilla and Carlos Olivia Castillo, known as “La Rana,” who allegedly ordered the attack and was third in command for the Zetas at the time. Additionally, the Mexican Army (Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) killed Francisco Medina Mejía, known as “El Quemado,” who was thought to have orchestrated the massacre. When arrested in September 2011, police officer Barraza revealed the names of 20 individuals involved with the Zetas, which led to the murder of his father, stepmother, and half-brother.
The casino attack has sparked examination of corruption between judicial employees and the casino mafia. The Federal Judicial Council (Consejo de Judicatura Federal, CJF) suspended several employees while under investigation for connections to the casino-including Judge Armando Jerezano Treviño, who is being investigated for possible extortion of various businessmen-, an action exemplary of the CJF’s desire to reduce corruption between and among judges, politicians, businessmen, and drug-traffickers. To show evidence of such corruption, authorities point to the case of former Judge José Alfonso Solís Navarro, who resigned his post immediately after the Casino Royale attack. Before the incident, Solís Navarro was under investigation for several of his legal decisions that favored various gambling centers, one of which occurred in May 2011, just three months before the attacks, when Monterrey Mayor Mauricio Fernández ordered the closing of Casino Royale because of improper permits, a closure that Solís Navarro worked to prevent.
Since the attack, family and community members have actively protested and demanded justice. In October 2011, family members returned to the casino where they planted 52 wood crosses for the deceased victims; hung a large sign asking President Calderón to keep his word on bringing justice to the victims’ familes; and requested that the scene be preserved in remembrance of the deceased. Family members have also made calls to the country’s next generation, asking students to “liberate the country from corruption and help people to avoid involvement with drugs,” pointing to the fact that the ‘war on drugs’ can harm innocent bystanders, like the 52 victims of the casino massacre. Samara Pérez Muñiz, the mother of an individual killed at Casino Royale and legal representative for other victims’ families, has stated that they are dissatisfied with justice thus far, and that they hope that president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto will seek further action, specifically through investigating Raúl Rocha, the head of the casino establishment.
One year after the event, the state of Nuevo León continues to experience high levels of violence, currently ranking as the most violent state in Mexico with 1,031 drug-related killings (ejecuciones) as of September 21, according to Grupo Reforma.
González, Sandra and Alanís, Ricardo. “Familias lloran a víctimas del Royale y claman justicia.” Milenio. October 27, 2011.
Notimex. “Hacen inspección en casino Royale de Monterrey.” El Universal. June 12, 2012.
Ravelo, Ricardo. “La mafia de los casinos, al amparo de funcionarios judiciales.” Proceso. July 19, 2012.
Ochoa, Reynaldo. “Familiares de víctimas del casino Royale realizarán ‘vigilia ciudadana.’ ” Milenio. August 16, 2012.
Zúñiga, Francisco and Martínez, Yari. “Para criminales del Royale ‘ni olvido ni perdón’: Medina.” Milenio. August 25, 2012.
“Ejecutometro 2012.” Grupo Reforma. Accessed September 25, 2012.
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