12 more suspects sought in deadly Mexico casino arson

Image: State investigations agents escort five men arrested in connection with an attack on a casino during a presentation in Monterrey
Agents in Monterrey, Mexico, escort five men arrested Monday in connection with an attack on a casino that killed at least 52 people.Stringer/mexico / Reuters
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Authorities in northern Mexico say they are searching for at least another dozen suspects in an arson fire at a casino that killed 52 people, according to a statement obtained by NBC News.

Nuevo Leon state Gov. Rodrigo Medina said five suspects have been arrested, but authorities are continuing to search for additional suspects involved in the attack in the city of Monterrey.

Medina made the comments Tuesday as officials showed journalists five alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel arrested in the case.

"There are at least a dozen implicated individuals in the attack that are already being sought after by authorities, in addition to the five detained who will be arraigned," Medina said in his native Spanish.

Gunmen on Thursday ignited gasoline at the entrance to the Casino Royale. Terrified customers and employees ran deep inside the building. Many were found dead from smoke inhalation in offices and bathrooms.

According to the statement, some of the suspects allegedly worked to ignite the fire, while others drove getaway cars and supervised the attack.

Thick smoke billows from the Casino Royale as firefighters attack the fire, in Monterrey, Mexico on August 25, 2011. 23 people were killed and 10 more were injured on Thursday as a result of an attack with at least an explosive device at the casino. Journalistic reports indicate that several casinos in Monterrey have been attacked --the last, last May-- because their owners have refused to pay extortion, another source of income for the drug traffickers. Nuevo Leon is one of the scenarios most affected by the clashes between drug traffickers and the security forces which have left a balance of more than 41,000 killed since December 2006, when the government launched a strategy to combat them with the participation of the army. AFP PHOTO/Dario Leon (Photo credit should read Dario Leon/AFP/Getty Images)Dario Leon / AFP

Police are investigating whether the attack was in retaliation for not paying extortion money.

"We will continue to act emphatically until the peace and the harmony that has always characterized us returns to our homes and our community," Medina said.