Infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who was behind the murder of a US DEA agent in 1985, was captured Friday by Mexican forces nearly a decade after breaking out of a Mexican prison and returning to drug trafficking. , according to the Mexican Navy.
Caro Quintero was arrested after a search dog named Max found him hiding in the undergrowth in the town of San Simón in Sinaloa state during a joint operation by the Navy and the Attorney General’s Office, according to a press release. Navy. The site was in the mountains near Sinaloa’s border with the northern border state of Chihuahua.
Mexico’s national arrest registry indicated that the time of Caro Quintero’s arrest was around noon. There were two outstanding warrants for his arrest, as well as an extradition request from the United States government.
A very brief video segment released by the navy showed Caro Quintero, his face blurred, dressed in jeans, a sodden blue shirt and a baggy khaki jacket held by both arms by men wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles.
A Navy Black Hawk helicopter carrying 15 people crashed near the coastal city of Los Mochis during the operation, killing 14 on board, according to the Navy statement. Available information indicated that it was an accident whose causes have not yet been determined, the statement said.
Caro Quintero had been released in 2013 after 28 years in prison when a court overturned her 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The brutal murder marked a low point in relations between the United States and Mexico.
Caro Quintero, a former leader of the Guadalajara cartel, had since returned to drug trafficking and waged bloody turf battles in the state of Sonora, on Mexico’s northern border.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has maintained that he is not interested in arresting drug lords and prefers to avoid violence.
But the arrest came just days after López Obrador met with US President Joe Biden at the White House.
There have been tensions between the Mexican government and the DEA after Mexico enacted a law limiting the US agency’s operations. But recently, the new head of the DEA in Mexico received a visa, which US officials marked as a sign of progress in the relationship.
Shortly before Caro Quintero’s arrest on Friday, US Ambassador Ken Salazar told a gathering of reporters that there had been progress in the security relationship.
“I have been in meetings with the foreign minister and with the security cabinet, along with all of our agencies that have included the new head of the DEA sitting to my right,” Salazar said. “So if we weren’t welcome here in Mexico, that wouldn’t happen.”
An appeals court overturned Caro Quintero’s verdict in 2013, but the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. It was too late by then; Caro Quintero left in a vehicle that he was waiting for.
He was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a $20 million reward for his capture through the State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program. He was added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 2018.
Caro Quintero was a major supplier of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the United States in the late 1970s. She blamed Camarena for a raid on a marijuana plantation in 1984. In 1985, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly by order of Caro Quintero. His tortured body was found a month later.
On Friday night, US Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed the US government’s deep appreciation to Mexican authorities for the arrest of Caro Quintero and offered his condolences for Mexican military personnel. who died in the helicopter crash.
“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures and murders American law enforcement,” he said in a statement. “Today’s arrest is the culmination of tireless work by the DEA and its Mexican partners to bring Caro-Quintero to justice for his alleged crimes, including the torture and execution of DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena. his immediate extradition to the United States so that he can be tried for these crimes in the same justice system that special agent Camarena died defending.
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