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Prime Suspect in Deadly Mexico Casino Fire Arrested

Baltazar Saucedo Estrada (C) is presented to the media at police headquarters in Monterrey, January 6, 2012.

Mexican police say the mastermind behind a Monterrey casino fire that killed dozens of patrons has been arrested.

Police say Baltazar Saucedo Estrada, nicknamed the "dog killer," admitted to having a role in the Casino Royale fire that killed 52 people last year.

He was arrested Thursday after crashing a van during a police chase. A reward of $1 million was offered for the capture of Saucedo - an alleged member of the notorious Zetas drug cartel.

At least 17 other suspects are in custody awaiting trial in connection with the deadly casino fire. Police say the suspects ran into the casino and spread gasoline around before setting fires that trapped many of the victims.

Saucedo says the attack was directed at a casino owner, who allegedly refused to pay money for protection by the Zetas drug cartel.

Authorities have blamed the Zetas, in part, for an escalation in violence in northeastern Mexico last year. Mexico's northern border is being rocked by violent crime and clashes involving groups battling for control of drug-trafficking routes into the United States.

About 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006 and began cracking down on the cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.