A group of gunmen killed four family members of a Mexican police officer who allegedly has worked as a lookout for the Los Zetas drug cartel, authorities said Friday.
The victims of Thursday’s attack in this northern metropolis were a 7-year-old girl and three adults, while officer Rolando Luna Santiago and a girl of 8 were wounded.
Several armed men arrived in two vehicles at the municipal police officer’s Monterrey home, burst into the residence and fired at the family with assault rifles before fleeing the scene, witnesses said.
“We’re investigating all the evidence found there to determine who could’ve attacked this family,” Jorge Domene, security spokesman for the Nuevo Leon state government, said.
The cop whose home was targeted in the attack allegedly worked for Los Zetas as a “halcon,” or lookout, police spokespersons said on condition of anonymity.
He apparently was tasked with monitoring the area where police on Thursday arrested Baltazar Saucedo Estrada, the alleged Zetas’ boss in Monterrey and a chief suspect in the Aug. 25 arson attack on a casino in that metropolis that left 52 dead.
Suspects previously detained in the massacre – one of the deadliest attacks on civilians by Mexican organized crime gangs – told authorities that Los Zetas gunmen torched the casino because the gaming establishment’s owner refused to pay protection money.
Saucedo Estrada – a purported mastermind of the casino attack – was arrested early Thursday afternoon, while the shooting at the police officer’s home occurred at night.
Founded by deserters from an elite special forces unit, Los Zetas began as the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel, but ended that relationship in March 2010 to go into business for themselves.
Regarded as Mexico’s most ruthless cartel, Los Zetas is accused of carrying out the August 2010 massacre of 72 undocumented immigrants near the U.S. border and is suspected in several similar cases.
The group has drawn the ire of older, established cartels through its extensive involvement in extortion, kidnapping for ransom and robbery, crimes that the other drug mobs generally eschew out of a desire to avoid antagonizing the general public.