Also on Tuesday, the US Attorney for Arizona resigned effective immediately. US Attorney Dennis Burke stepped down two weeks after testifying before a House Oversight Committee regarding Fast & Furious, which Burke was in charge of as the state's US Attorney.
NUEVO LEON: At least 53 people were killed when eight gunmen burst into a casino in the northern industrial center of Monterrey, doused the place with gasoline and ignited a fire that trapped dozens of patrons and gamblers.
With shouts and profanities, the attackers told the customers and employees to get out. But many terrified customers and employees fled further inside the building, where they died trapped amid the flames and thick smoke that soon billowed out of the building.The attack took place on August 25th. The following day, Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared three days of mourning and the Mexican government offered a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.4 million) for information leading to any of the assailants in the Casino Royale attack.
Video footage showed workers continuing to remove bodies well into the night.
Monterrey Mayor Fernando Larrazabal said many of the bodies were found inside the casino's bathrooms, where employees and customers had locked themselves to escape the gunmen.
In an act of desperation, authorities commandeered backhoes from a nearby construction site to break into the casino's walls to try to reach the people trapped inside.
On Monday night, Federal Police in Monterrey announced that they had arrested five suspects and were still seeking the whereabouts of two more. Authorities believe a likely motive in the casino attack is nonpayment of extortion money and the five detained suspects are said to be members of the Zetas. Surveillance footage of the suspects filling up five gallon canisters of gasoline at a gas station not too far from the Casino Royale was shown at the conference announcing the arrests Monday.
The attack shocked and angered many Mexicans because instead of career criminals, the victims were mostly middle aged women who frequently visited the casino to play bingo.
MEXICO CITY: 21 of Mexico's 31 senior federal prosecutors abruptly quit earlier this month. Mexican press outlets report this as being the single biggest mass resignation of federal officials in recent history.
The office announced late last month that in Morales' first 100 days on the job, 462 prosecutors and other officials had been dismissed and 111 more were facing criminal charges involving a range of infractions, including fraud, theft, abuse of power and falsification of documents. An additional 386 employees were in the process of being dismissed.Attorney General Marisela Morales declined to cite specific reasons behind the mass departures
Rosa Elena Torres Davila, a senior official in the attorney general's office, made Monday's announcement and said the resignations were tendered on Friday. They included the top federal prosecutors in some of Mexico's most violent states where drug traffickers have intimidated local authorities and killed thousands of people in cases that have largely gone unprosecuted. They also included the top federal prosecutor in the capital, Mexico City, which is a federal district with a status similar to that of a state.
CALIFORNIA: Local, state and federal law enforcement officers raided an Iraqi-Chaldean social club in San Diego County and arrested 60 men in a multi-agency investigation dubbed 'Operation Shadowbox'. The social club had been a source of complaints from both neighboring businesses claiming drug dealing and prostitution were rampant and wives of some patrons said that their life savings was being gambled away at the club.
More ominously, members of the club were alleged to have purchased drugs and explosives from the Sinaloa cartel. Marijuana was sold out of the club while methamphetamine smuggled in from Mexico would be forwarded to a sister organization in Detroit.
Since January, the DEA and El Cajon police have purchased narcotics, firearms, improvised explosive devices and pharmaceuticals from people at the club, Sprecco said. In April, an undercover operative was shown a hand grenade and was told more were available from a Mexican military source. Suspects in the investigation reportedly arranged narcotics shipments from El Cajon to Detroit.The city of El Cajon has the second-highest Chaldean population in the United States after Detroit- the San Diego suburb is home to about 47,000 Iraqi Chaldeans, many of them having immigrated there before the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in their native Iraq.
During the course of the investigation, operatives discovered a suspected association with the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization, and the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, which began in Detroit in the early 80s and has been linked numerous crimes, including murder, arson and kidnapping, Sprecco said.
The investigation resulted in the seizure of drugs including more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine, more than four pounds of ecstasy and pharmaceuticals and about 3,500 pounds of marijuana, Sprecco said. Authorities confiscated more than $630,000 and three luxury cars.
Officers seized 34 firearms, including semi-automatic rifles and four explosive devices, which were processed with the help of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Bomb Squad and the FBI, Sprecco said.
NEW MEXICO: The former police chief of the small New Mexico border town of Columbus has pleaded guilty to trafficking firearms and tactical gear across the border into Mexico on behalf of enforcers for 'La Linea'- a gang of enforcers for the Juarez cartel.
As a participant in the conspiracy, Vega conducted counter-surveillance, used a village-owned Ford F150 truck to transport firearms from the country, pulled over a car of ATF agents at La Linea's request, and tried to get ATF agents to return firearms to Gutierrez after they were seized, Spitzer told the court.Former police chief Angelo Vega faces up to 35 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. The village's former mayor- Eddie Espinoza- and village trustee- Blas Gutierrez- have already pleaded guilty for their role in the weapons smuggling case.
And on Feb. 10, Vega purchased thousands of dollars in body armor, boots, helmets and clothing, including a bulletproof vest for a La Linea leader, whose name was not mentioned in court.
Vega had previously pleaded not guilty to taking part in the conspiracy, in which he and his co-defendants allegedly purchased about 200 firearms - including AK-47-type pistols, weapons resembling AK-47 rifles, but with shorter barrels and without rear stocks, and American Tactical 9 mm caliber pistols - from Chaparral Guns in Chaparral and smuggled them to members of the Juárez-based La Linea cartel between January 2010 and March 2011.
In raids, law enforcement seized 40 of the AK-47 type pistols, more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition and 30 high-capacity magazines before they crossed the border, and found another 12 firearms in Mexico that were traced back to the defendants. Three others were found on three dead individuals in an SUV in Juárez, and others were found at a narcotics bust there, according to federal prosecutors
Since the arrests, the small 4-man police department has been disbanded and the area is patrolled now by the Luna County Sheriff's Department.