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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
September 17, 2011

At least 53 people were killed and upwards of 30 were wounded in an apparent grenade attack at a casino in Monterrey, Mexico, the capital of Nuevo Leon, according to a U.S. law enforcement officer assigned to Mexico City.

Even more troubling is the suspicion that the grenades used in that attack were part of a shipment of weapons involved in the ATF's Operation Fast & Furious.

The incident occurred at the Casino Royale when two males aboard the back of a pickup truck pulled up to an entrance and allegedly tossed three hand grenades into the building. Between 20 and 30 people were trapped inside the casino because of debris from the grenade blasts, said the U.S. officer who requested anonymity.

A Spanish newspaper, El Diario, claims a video from the scene showed a burned-out building as firefighters made rescue attempts to break the wall of the facade of the casino to release the deadly smoke inside the building.

"In fires, most victims die from smoke inhalation. By the time the actual fire reaches them, they're already dead," said former New York fire marshal Jan Petton.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon released a statement upon hearing of the grenade attack: "With deep consternation, I express my solidarity with Nuevo Leon and the victims of this abhorrent act of terror and barbarism."

As of yet, Mexican authorities haven't released the names or nationalities of those killed or wounded in what many believe is a narco-terrorist by one of the drug cartels currently at war with the Mexican government.

The Mexican Army and state and municipal police forces have remained on the scene and the arson and explosion unit is conducting a crime scene examination.

Mexico's Nuevo Leon has been the victim of similar attacks this year. On August 13, four civilians were wounded when an armed group fired two grenades at a jail in the municipality of Apodaca.
In July, gang members sprayed a downtown bar in Monterrey with hundreds of rounds of ammunition killing 20 patrons.


Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas have witnessed numerous clashes between organized crime groups. The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas are vying for control of trafficking routes into the United States.

Last week, American police sources reported that a vicious and ruthless cartel leader who was arrested in Mexico boasted of ordering the murder of more than 1,500 people in Mexico's northern Chihuahua state.

In fact, a war between two notorious cartels has led to a “dramatic increase in violence” in two northern border regions, according to the State Department report issued by the agency’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).

Large-scale gun battles often occur in broad daylight on streets and other public venues and U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area, according to the OSAC assessment.

Using the term “narco-terrorism,” it goes on to say that “continued concerns regarding road safety along the Mexican border have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area.”

Local authorities aren’t helping because “police corruption and police involvement in criminal activity continue to be a problem in Mexico.”

Mexican police last week arrested a U.S. man accused of trafficking grenade and gun parts to one of Mexico's most dangerous and ruthless drug cartels in a sign the gangs could now be making their own weapons

Federal police (Federales) captured Jean Baptiste Kingery last week at a house in the Pacific tourist town of Mazatlan in Sinaloa state, where they discovered a stockpile of guns and found a Hummer sports utility vehicle parked outside.

Mexican government officials allege that Kingery delivered parts used to make grenades and firearms, some bought at stores and online in the United States, to the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Mexico's most wanted man Joaquin Guzman.

Kingery's arrest by Mexican police raises the possibility that the drug cartels are manufacturing weapons inside Mexico and not just smuggling arms from the United States. Drug gangs frequently use grenades and automatic weapons in an escalating battle between rival gangs and against law enforcement that has claimed more than 42,000 lives since late 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched a war on drug-traffickers and organized crime games.

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As part of the search that led to Kingery's arrest, Mexican police also found gunpowder, grenade pins and other components to assemble firearms in several different houses in the state of Sinaloa, headquarters of the drug cartel that bears its name.

The arrest is part of an ongoing operation with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents which led to the arrest of another American gun runner last month.

The Obama administration recently announced a major shake-up at the U.S. agency after it botched a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to track smuggled guns into Mexico, known as "Fast and Furious," that allowed weapons to flow freely over the border.

Some analysts believe the grenades were used in the attack at Mexico’s Casino Royale.

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The Mexican Army and state and municipal police forces have remained on the scene and the arson and explosion unit is conducting a crime scene examination.