A cell leader of Mexico’s most powerful cartel is believed to be the person behind the nightclub bombing that killed 26 people and injured 11 Tuesday night.
Governor Cuitláhuac García took to his Twitter account Wednesday morning and claimed Ricardo Romero Villegas, a.k.a. ‘La Loca,’ led a group of armed men into The White Horse nightclub in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and launched a Molotov cocktail attack.
A fire ensued, subsequently trapping several patrons inside, leaving dead 16 men and 10 women.
‘The indications about the deplorable crime at the Coatzacoalcos bar point out that one of the main suspects is Ricardo [Romero Villegas] ‘a.k.a ‘La Loca’ who was apprehended by Veracruz forces in July of this year and was released in less than 48 hours by the [State Attorney General],’ García wrote.
Romero Villegas was arrested for drug possession August 7 by the Mexican marines but ordered released two days later by the office of Mexico’s Attorney General and not the Veracruz State Attorney General’s office.
He is suspected of being the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel’s cell in Coatzacoalcos.
The owner of The White Horse was kidnapped and that the cartel was looking into using the club as a drug dealing hub, according to Mexican outlet Milenio.
‘They closed the escape door and they burned a part of the entrance with gasoline, made an explosion and the people suffocated,’ García said.
Ricardo Romero Villegas, a.k.a. ‘La Loca,’ has been signaled by Mexican authorities of leading a massacre that on Tuesday night left at least 26 people dead at a nightclub in Veracruz
View of the interior of The White Horse nightclub after an attack in Cotzacoalcos, Mexico, on Tuesday night. The governor of the southeastern Mexican state of Veracruz identified the person responsible as Ricardo Romero Villegas, also known as ‘La Loca,’ who was arrested in July and released within 48 hours by the State Attorney General’s office
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during his daily press briefing on Wednesday that the suspects locked the doors during the attack and trapped the patrons inside The White Horse nightclub (pictured above)
Six of the injured victims suffered burns to 90 percent of their bodies and were listed in critical condition.
State police are investigating a possible arson attack, which may have been started with petrol bombs, and said the search for the attackers continues.
On Wednesday, Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during his daily press briefing that the suspects locked the doors during the attack.
‘They closed the emergency exit doors and burned the place, it is very unfortunate, I am saddened that so far 25 have lost their. Very sad,’ López Obrador said.
The leftist leader also called for an open investigation of the Veracruz Attorney General’s office as to why Romero Villegas was released from custody.
‘There is a problem in which the actions of the Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office have to be investigated. It is condemned that there is a conflict with authorities,’ López Obrador said.
‘The least we have to do is to sharply separate authorities from delinquents because if not, we do not move forward.’
A gang attacked The White Horse nightclub (pictured) in Veracruz, Mexico, on Tuesday night and killed 26 people and injured 11
Relatives (pictured) of victims react as they wait for news at the entrance to the Mexican nightclub on Tuesday where attackers bombed it with Molotov cocktails, killing 26 and injuring 11
Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García identified the mastermind of Tuesday night’s nightclub bombing
Garcia previously suggested that a gang dispute was involved in the blaze.
The attack, along with the killing of 19 people in the western city of Uruapan earlier this month, is likely to renew fears that the public violence of the 2006-2012 drug war has returned.
‘In Veracruz, criminal gangs are no longer tolerated,’ Garcia wrote of the attack, adding police, the armed forces and newly formed National Guard are searching for the culprits.
‘The devious crime of a few moments ago in Coatzacoalcos will not go unpunished’, he continued in a tweet.
The state attorney general’s office condemned ‘what may constitute a malicious attack.’
Photos of the scene showed a wrecked interior with chairs overturned and debris littering the floor, and emergency vehicles and police outside the building.
Agents from the National Guard on watch at the entrance to the bar. The search for the attackers continues, the Governor of Veracruz said
Governor of Veracruz Cuitlahuac Garcia suggested on his Twitter account that a gang dispute was involved in the blaze
State attorney general’s office (pictured) condemned ‘what may constitute a malicious attack’
The White Horse nightclub is located on a busy commercial street in Coatzacoalcos, a city whose main industry has long been oil and oil refining.
The attack came almost eight years to the day after a fire started in 2011 at a Casino Royale in the northern city of Monterrey killed 52 people. The Zetas drug cartel staged that attack to enforce demands for protection payments.
The Zetas, now splintered, have also been active in Coatzacoalcos.
Veracruz is one of the most violent regions of Mexico. Drug trafficking routes to the United States pass through it, and bloody battles frequently erupt between rival drug gangs.