U.S. will seek ‘immediate extradition’ of captured drug lord Rafael Caro-Quintero

Rafael Caro-Quintero. Photos: FBI

July 16 (UPI) — The United States will seek the “immediate extradition” of Rafael Caro-Quintero after he was captured by Mexican forces, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced.

“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement. We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro-Quintero,” Garland said in a statement Friday.

“We will be seeking his immediate extradition to the United States so he can be tried for these crimes in the very justice system Special Agent [Enrique “Kiki”] Camarena died defending.”

Caro-Quintero was arrested by marines with the Mexican navy during an operation Friday as a Black Hawk helicopter carrying 14 marines sent to help with his capture crashed in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, CNN reported, citing a statement from the Mexican navy.

“We join in mourning the 14 Mexican servicemembers who gave their lives in service to their country and extend our condolences to the loved ones they left behind,” Garland said in his statement.

Caro-Quintero, considered the “godfather of Mexican drug trafficking” by the FBI, was convicted for his involvement in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Camarena, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and sentenced to 40 years in prison but was freed in 2013.

He was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2018 and is considered to be the founder of the Guadalajara Cartel and said to hold an “active key leadership position” in the Sinaloa Cartel.

Caro-Quintero blamed Camarena after Mexican authorities raided a marijuana plantation he owned in 1984. The following year, when the undercover agent was close to uncovering a million-dollar drug pipeline from Mexico to the United States, he was allegedly kidnapped on Caro-Quintero’s orders.

His body was found a month later and “showed signs of torture,” according to a 2018 news release from the FBI offering a $20 million reward for information leading to his capture.

“Caro-Quintero had tremendous power three decades ago, and he still has power today,” Russ Ellersick, an FBI special agent investigating the case, said at the time.

“Our objective all along has been to investigate [Caro-Quintero’s] current activities but also to hold him accountable for Special Agent Camarena’s murder.”


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