Top cartel figure arrested in Mexico casino attack

Story highlights

  • Jose Alberto Loera Rodriguez, 28, is one of the four reputed leaders of Los Zetas
  • A reward of 15 million pesos had been offered for information leading to his capture
  • Suspects arrested afterward said attacks were punishment for not paying extortion demands
  • A Nuevo Leon state police officer also was arrested in connection with the crime
Federal authorities have arrested one of the alleged leaders of a drug cartel thought to be behind the August attack and arson at a Monterrey casino that left 52 people dead, Mexico's news agency reported Tuesday.
Jose Alberto Loera Rodriguez, nicknamed "el Voltaje," (the Jock), 28, is one of the four reputed leaders of Los Zetas, and allegedly was one of those responsible for planning and carrying out the August 25 attack on the Casino Royale, according to Notimex.
The news agency quoted Luis Cárdenas Palomino, head of the Regional Security Division of the Federal Police, as saying a reward of up to 15 million pesos (about $1 million U.S.) was offered for information leading to Loera Rodriguez's capture.
So far, 14 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Five suspects, all suspected Zetas members, were arrested shortly after the incident. Investigators said the men told them they carried out the attack, which occurred in an upscale section of Monterrey, because the owners of the casino had not complied with their extortion demands.
On September 2, a Nuevo Leon state police officer, Miguel Angel Barraza Escamilla, was arrested and accused of being one of the occupants of three getaway cars parked outside, based on surveillance video footage of the entrance to the casino. (On September 15, three of Barraza's family members -- his father, stepmother and stepbrother -- were killed in what a state security spokesman said was "a revenge attack" by a local cartel).
Authorities said the casino's security video shows armed men arriving in the vehicles and carrying what appear to be gallons of gasoline. They burst into the casino and, seconds later, dozens of people flee the smoke and fire. The attack appeared to last 2½ minutes, based on the video.
Witnesses and survivors who were interviewed by CNN a week after the massacre said the men who set fire to the building also opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd inside.
Authorities said most of the 52 dead were women.