Sunday, April 2, 2023

Mexico captures capo allegedly responsible for the murder of a DEA agent

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — The United States’ motivation to find infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was never in doubt — hence the $20 million reward for information leading to his capture — there was less certainty about the president’s commitment. Mexican Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. , who had made clear his lack of interest in pursuing drug lords.

Yet on Friday, three days after López Obrador and United States President Joe Biden met at the White House, the most wanted target of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration — the man allegedly responsible for the murder of a DEA agent more than three decades ago—was in Mexican custody.

A bloodhound pulled him out of the brush as Mexican marines approached deep in the mountains of his home state of Sinaloa.

The arrest came at a high cost: Fourteen Mexican marines were killed and another wounded when a Navy Blackhawk helicopter crashed during the operation. The navy said it appeared to be an accident, with the cause under investigation.

Fbi Poster Shows Rafael Caro Quintero

An FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives poster shows Rafael Caro Quintero. FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation/ Handout via Reuters.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement Friday night that Caro Quintero was arrested for extradition to the United States and would be held at the Altiplano maximum-security prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City. .

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram celebrated the capture of a man especially despised by US officials for the torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. “Our incredible DEA team in Mexico worked in collaboration with Mexican authorities to capture and arrest Rafael Caro. Quintero,” she said in a message to the agency late Friday. “Today’s arrest is the result of years of blood, sweat and tears,”

Cooperation between the DEA and Mexico’s marines had led to some of the highest-profile captures during previous administrations, but not under López Obrador, security analyst David Saucedo said.

“It seems to me that in the private conversations between President Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) they surely agreed to turn over high-profile drug traffickers again, which had been suspended,” Saucedo said.

Both presidents face domestic pressure to do more against drug traffickers. With the arrest of Caro Quintero, “the narcos are being captured again and I think that was clearly what was really needed,” Saucedo said.

Samuel González, who founded the organized crime office at Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office and is now a security analyst, said the capture might not have a major effect on the map of organized crime in Mexico, since Caro Quintero was not as powerful as it was decades ago. and it could even generate more violence in territories like Sonora, on the border with the United States.

But he said that to the benefit of López Obrador, the arrest “shows evidence that there is no protection of the kingpins” by his administration.

González believes that Caro Quintero has long been a thorn in the bilateral relationship, but said that “without a doubt” his capture was the result of recent negotiations in Washington.

“The Americans never stopped pressing for his arrest,” Gonzalez said.

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland and United States Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar expressed their gratitude for Mexico’s capture of the man accused of killing Camarena, a case that brought a low point in relations between the United States and Mexico.

“This achievement is a testament to Mexico’s determination to bring to justice someone who terrorized and destabilized Mexico during his time in the Guadalajara Cartel; and he is implicated in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena,” Salazar said in a statement Friday night.

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Garland said the US government would seek his immediate extradition.

“My hope is that with the capture of Caro Quintero, a lot of tensions between the DEA and Mexico will be fixed,” said Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations.

The Mexican Navy and Attorney General’s Office conducted the operation deep in the mountains that straddle the border between the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, many miles from any paved road. They found Caro Quintero, with the help of “Max”, hiding in the bush in a place in Sinaloa called San Simón.

López Obrador said that the helicopter that crashed in the coastal city of Los Mochis had been supporting the operation against Caro Quintero. US officials expressed their condolences for the Marines who died.

Caro Quintero came from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, the same village as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which was formed later. Caro Quintero was one of the founders of the Guadalajara cartel and, according to the DEA, was one of the main suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Caro Quintero had blamed Camarena for a raid on a huge marijuana plantation in 1984. The following year, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on Caro Quintero’s orders. Her tortured body was found a month later.

Caro Quintero was captured in Costa Rica in 1985 and was serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico when an appeals court reversed his verdict in 2013. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, but it was too late: Caro Quintero had been kidnapped in a vehicle Standby.

Caro Quintero was added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 2018 with a $20 million reward for his capture.

López Obrador had previously been ambivalent about his case.

Last year, the president said the legal appeal that led to Caro Quintero’s release was “justified” because the drug lord allegedly had not been sentenced after 27 years in prison. López Obrador also described a subsequent order for his re-arrest as an example of US pressure.

“Once he got out, they had to look for him again, because the United States demanded that they not release him, but legally the appeal was justified,” López Obrador said.

Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez said at the time: “The president was only saying that it was a legal aberration that the judge had not issued a verdict on Mr. Caro Quintero after 27 years… but he was not defending his release.”

Mexican reporter Anabel Hernández twice interviewed fugitive Caro Quintero in the mountains of northern Mexico without revealing the location. Caro Quintero assured in those interviews that he was no longer involved in drug trafficking.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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