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16 October 2011

Professional wrestler detained over Mexico casino firebomb - 5th October 2011

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A former pro wrestler suspected of helping to mastermind the August firebombing of a land based casino which left 52 people dead has been detained by Mexican authorities.

In Mexico, pro wrestlers are often called luchadores, where as in the US and Australia, they are often referred to as "sports entertainers", as they are in the "sports entertainment" business.

Federal police detained Jose Alberto Loera Rodriguez and two suspected accomplices on a road in northeastern Mexico on Tuesday, said Luis Cardenas Palomino, regional coordinator of the Public Security Ministry.

Police also confiscated drugs and weapons, including 15 AK-47 rifles and two grenade launchers, he added.

Armed men set The Casino Royale in Monterrey ablaze on August 25 in one of the deadliest attacks in nearly five years of shocking drug violence in Mexico. Forty-two women were among the victims.

Authorities last week detained another suspected mastermind of the attack, Roberto Carlos Lopez Castro, in the suburbs of the western city of Guadalajara.

Nine other suspects have been detained, including a police officer and suspected members of the Zetas drug gang.

Authorities blame the Zetas – a gang set up in the 1990s by ex-elite soldiers turned hired killers – for torching the casino because its owners refused to pay protection money.
A surge in violence in Nuevo Leon is blamed on a turf war between the Gulf drug gang and the Zetas, its former enforcers.

More than 41,000 people have been killed across Mexico since the federal government in 2006 launched a crackdown against drug cartels, according to official data and media tallies.

The last time a pro wrestler got a similar amount of negative media reports from a serious crime was in 2007 when Canadian Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son, then committing suicide. Since Benoit's suicide, numerous explanations for his actions have been proposed, including concussions, steroid abuse, and a failing marriage.

On June 25, 2007, police entered Benoit's home on a "welfare check" after several missed appointments, leading to concerns. The officers discovered the bodies of Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel at around 2:30 p.m. EDT. Upon investigating, no additional suspects were sought by authorities. It was determined that Benoit had committed the murders. Over a three day period, Benoit had killed his wife and son before he hanged himself. His wife was bound before the killing. Benoit's son was drugged and likely unconscious before Benoit strangled him. Benoit then committed suicide with a weight machine.



Mexico casino attack kills 53 - 26th August 2011

An arson attack on a casino in Mexico has sparked a massive fire and killed at least 53 people.

The attack occurred in the northern Mexican industrial city of Monterrey, the governor of the state of Nuevo Leon said.

Governor Rodrigo Medina announced the grim toll in an interview with the Televisa network, adding that the vast establishment, the Casino Royale, had been set ablaze using some kind of flammable liquid "like gasoline."

President Felipe Calderon condemned the attack, calling it an "abhorrent and barbaric act of terror" in a message on Twitter and expressing his solidarity with the people of Nuevo Leon, of which Monterrey is the capital.

"An unacceptable act of terror has been committed that will not go unpunished," added national security spokesman Alejandro Poire.

Casinos in Monterrey have recently been targeted because some owners have refused to pay protection money demanded by criminal gangs linked to the country's booming drugs trade, local media have reported.

For more than a year Monterrey has been the epicenter of a battle between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, two powerful drug smuggling groups vying for control of the lucrative routes north to the United States.

Mr Medina said the attack was carried out by six men who arrived at the casino in two vehicles around 4 pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday local time.

Some men entered the casino "and screamed out 'everyone hit the floor'," a witness who spoke on condition of anonymity told Mexican media.

"I don't know if there was a weapon that makes such a noise, but an impressive explosion followed - I never want to go through something like that again," said the witness, who fled to the rooftop with a friend to escape the flames.

The state head of civil protection, Jorge Camacho, said that the death toll was so high because many people hid in bathrooms and offices when they heard the explosions instead of heading to the emergency exits.

They were trapped by the flames, and many died of smoke inhalation, he said.

It took firefighters four hours to control the flames, and Mr Medina warned that more bodies could be found inside the casino. Firefighters had to knock large holes in the building's wall to reach the second floor.

Mr Calderon ordered interior minister Francisco Blake to Monterrey to head the government probe into the attack.

Only a few years ago, Monterrey had been seen as one of Mexico's safest cities.

But Nuevo Leon state and its capital, which is home to four million people, have seen an increasing amount of drug-related violence, with more than 70 people killed in Monterrey last month alone.

Nearly 850 people were killed in the state in the first half of the year, compared to 278 murder victims for all of 2010, according to a tally by the national newspaper Reforma.

More than 41,000 people have died in violence linked to Mexico's organized crime gangs since Mr Calderon launched a military crackdown on them in December 2006, according to media counts and official figures.


Ex-wrestler accused over casino firebombing - 5th October 2011

Mexican authorities have detained a former wrestler suspected of helping mastermind the August firebombing of a casino in the northern city of Monterrey, which left 52 people dead.

Federal police detained Jose Alberto Loera Rodriguez and two accomplices on a road in north-eastern Mexico on Tuesday, said Luis Cardenas Palomino, regional coordinator of the Public Security Ministry.

Police also confiscated drugs and weapons, including 15 AK-47 rifles and two grenade launchers, he added.

Rodriguez reportedly wrestled under the name of 'El Voltaje' (The Voltage).

Armed men set the Casino Royale ablaze on August 25 in one of the deadliest attacks in nearly five years of shocking drug violence in Mexico. Forty-two women were among the victims.

Authorities last week detained another suspected mastermind of the attack, Roberto Carlos Lopez Castro, in the suburbs of the western city of Guadalajara.

Nine other suspects have been detained, including a police officer and suspected members of the Zetas drug gang.

Authorities blame the Zetas - a gang set up in the 1990s by ex-elite soldiers turned hired killers - for torching the casino because its owners refused to pay protection money.

A surge in violence in Nuevo Leon is blamed on a turf war between the Gulf drug gang and the Zetas, its former enforcers.

More than 41,000 people have been killed across Mexico since the federal government in 2006 launched a crackdown against drug cartels, according to official data and media tallies.

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