Mexico: "terrorists" massacre 50 in blaze at Monterrey's Casino Royale

A team of armed men who arrived in sport utility vehicles and a pickup truck entered the crowded Casino Royale in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey on Aug. 26, ordered the staff and patrons out—and set the building ablaze with a flammable liquid while people were still scrambling for the doors. At least 52 were killed. President Felipe Calderón said: "It is evident we are not facing common delinquents, we are facing true terrorists who have surpassed not only the limits of the law but...respect for life."

Las Vegas-style gambling houses are technically illegal in Mexico. But sports betting, bingo and electronic games are permitted, and many nightclubs openly bill themselves as casinos, operating illegal betting parlors with impunity. Authorities say the number of such establishments has swelled as the cartels have turned to them for money laundering purposes. The national magazine Proceso reported in June that both legal and illegal gambling businesses have grown to nearly 800 this year, from just over 100 in 2000. In Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is located, the number of such businesses climbed to 57 this year from five a decade ago. (NYT, El Economista, Aug. 26)

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Drug Czar: legalization no "magic bullet"

After the horrific casino massacre in Monterrey, Mexican President Felipe Calderón implied that the US should consider legalization as an alternative to failed anti-drug policies. US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske responded that legalization isn't a "magic bullet." But something doesn't have to be a "magic bullet" to be a good idea. See full story at