International edition
June 22, 2021

Raul Rocha Cantu declared about the attack on Casino Royale

Mexican casino owner gives statement in US

(Mexico).- Raul Rocha Cantu, owner of the casino where 52 people died last month in an arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico, has given a statement to Mexican Attorney General's Office representatives in Florida, the Nuevo Leon state Security Council said.


The casino's owner has already given a statement ... to the AG's office attache in the state of Florida" on Tuesday, a spokesman for the council told Efe. The Nuevo Leon Attorney General's Office issued an order several days ago for Rocha to appear in court and give investigators a statement about the August 25 attack on the Casino Royale.

The attack, which was staged by suspected members of the Los Zetas cartel, rocked the country because the death toll was the highest ever for Mexican civilians in an incident involving drug traffickers.

Rocha sent a letter earlier this week to the El Norte newspaper in which he said he fled the country because he feared the criminals who attacked his business. "I am willing to provide my statement when the authorities can guarantee that my life is not in danger," Rocha told El Norte.

The businessman gave his statement to investigators outside of Mexico, Nuevo Leon Governor Rodrigo Medina said. "I understand that the casino's owner has also given some type of statement to a prosecutor's office abroad," Medina told reporters following the inauguration of a steel industry conference. "I don't know if it was a statement or if it was a letter or document that was presented, but the information I have from the AG's office is that he went to some office," the governor said.

The Nuevo Leon AG's office is working on the investigation with support from federal prosecutors and it is "moving forward," focusing on "making the criminals pay and advancing the investigation in a solid and transparent manner," Medina said.

The case took a strange turn recently when Mexico City's Reforma newspaper released videos showing Manuel Jonas Larrazabal, the brother of Monterrey's mayor, receiving wads of cash at a casino.

Mayor Fernando Larrazabal, of the ruling conservative National Action Party, has denied any links with the scandal affecting his brother and ruled out the possibility of resigning. Manuel Jonas Larrazabal was arrested a week ago by the Nuevo Leon AG's office after several videos were posted on Reforma's Web site showing him receiving cash during visits to casinos. His defense attorney said the money was payment for the sale of "cheeses and mescal (a distilled alcoholic beverage)" from the southern state of Oaxaca to people linked to casinos in Monterrey.

Six suspects have been arrested in connection with the massacre at the Casino Royale and officials say another six perpetrators remain at large, in addition to the people who masterminded the attack.

Five of the suspected Zetas in custody told investigators they did not plan to kill anyone and only wanted to intimidate the establishment's owner into paying. The suspects said they were scolded by their bosses for killing so many people at the casino, which was the target of an extortion racket common in several parts of Mexico, officials said.

Owners of some Nuevo Leon casinos have complained that they are extorted by organized crime elements and also by the authorities, who threaten to shutter their establishments if payments are not made.

Rewards are being offered for 18 individuals known only by their aliases who are being sought in connection with the torching of the casino, the federal AG's office said Wednesday. The rewards for the suspects go up to us$ 1.2 million each, the AG's office said.

The man suspected of organizing the attack has been identified only as "El Mata Perros" (The Dog Killer) or "Comandante Mata Perros" (Commander Dog Killer), federal prosecutor Jose Cuitlahuac Salinas said.

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