Coverup Allegations Follow Deadly Mexico Casino Fire

The Wall Street Journal, 12/8/11

Months after a deadly casino fire killed 52 people, including a pregnant woman, no one other than the gang members accused of setting the fire is in jail. That has led to accusations by survivors and opposition politicians that the government is trying to cover up an embarrassing scandal that links dirty casino money to politicians.

This week, federal and state prosecutors formally absolved the owners of the Casino Royale from any blame in connection with the Aug. 25 attack, in which alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel burst into the casino and started a gasoline-fueled fire that soon overwhelmed victims, mostly middle-age matrons playing electronic bingo.

Officials have captured and charged 16 alleged members of the Zetas with the attack, one of the deadliest single incidents in Mexico’s drug war. The gang set fire to the casino to pressure the owners into paying extortion money, prosecutors say.

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