Mexico arrests drug lord convicted of killing DEA agent

MEXICO. A drug lord convicted of orchestrating the torture and murder of a DEA agent was arrested Friday in northern Mexico, Mexican officials say, bringing a case that has long been a source of tension with the United States one step closer. to permission.

According to Mexican officials, drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was captured in a joint operation involving Mexican marines and the country’s prosecutor’s office near the city of San Simon in the state of Sinaloa. mr. According to the Mexican Marines, Caro Quintero was found hiding in the bushes by a search dog named Max.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the United States would seek his immediate extradition.

Two warrants were issued for G.. Officials announced the arrest of Caro Quintero. As of 2020, the former crime boss has been indicted in Brooklyn federal court on multiple counts of drug trafficking, according to court records.

mr. Caro Quintero was found guilty of orchestrating the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, known as Kiki, and was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in 2018 after he was released in 2013 on legal grounds. Since then he has been on the run.

The move took the American authorities by surprise. Caro Quintero served 28 years of his 40-year sentence when he was abruptly released by a judge who ruled that he had been improperly tried in federal court, not state court, for the murder of Mr. Caro. Camarena.

The torture and murder of G. Camarena, who worked undercover, was considered a turning point in Mexico’s brutal war against drug cartels and has long been a sore spot for US law enforcement officials, as well as a source of friction with Washington.

mr. The brutal murder of Camarena is considered one of the worst episodes in the history of the DEA, and the capture of Mr. Caro Quintero has long been considered a work in progress in the agency.

“Whoever kidnaps, tortures and kills American law enforcement officers has nowhere to hide,” he said. Garland said in a statement Friday, thanking Mexican authorities and adding that the arrest was “the culmination of the tireless work of the DEA and their Mexican partners.”

The capture of the infamous drug lord who founded the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel comes just days after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with President Biden in Washington.

In a joint statement after the meeting, both leaders said they “reaffirmed our commitment to working together to address the major security issues affecting our countries, including issues related to fentanyl, arms trafficking and human smuggling.”

A few hours after Caro Quintero was detained, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed near the nearby town of Los Mochis, killing 14 Marines on board; However, according to Mexican officials, there is no evidence yet that the two incidents were connected.

The capture of Mr. Caro Quintero is likely to be seen as an important victory for Mr. Jordan. López Obrador, who led one of the bloodiest periods in Mexican history despite promises to fight crime and end violence.

The arrest also points to ongoing cooperation between US and Mexican security forces, a relationship that has become increasingly tense since Mexico. legislation passed last year restriction of the activities of foreign agents and removal of diplomatic immunity from them.

The operation “requires a very rapid exchange of information between the Marines and US agencies,” said Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City-based security analyst. “It’s a sign that, at least at this level, at the agency level, that collaboration is ongoing.”

But despite its symbolic significance, analysts warn that the practical impact of Mr. Caro Quintero’s arrest will be limited, as he is likely to no longer be an important figure in the Mexican organized crime world, which has become increasingly fragmented and less and less centered around big cartels.

“In terms of bilateral relations, and above all in meeting the pressure of the DEA, this is a big deal,” said Falko Ernst, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. “But if you look at it in terms of what it does to armed conflict on the ground and actually offers solutions to violence, he was still a player, not a major figure.”

However, among Mexican narcologists Mr. Caro Quintero remains a prominent figure. Known as the “Drug Dealer”, he was a pioneer in the production and trafficking of drugs in the United States.

According to the 2020 indictment, Caro Quintero has led an extensive smuggling ring since at least 1980 that was responsible for the production and export of “multi-ton quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana from Mexico to the United States.”

According to the indictment, the organization was also responsible for shipping tons of cocaine from South America to the United States, generating millions of dollars in profits, which were then laundered back to Mexico.

The indictment also noted that the leaders of the Caro Quintero organization “hired ‘sicarios’ or hit men who carried out numerous acts of violence, including murder, assault, kidnapping and torture.”

By far the most infamous of these murders was that of Mr. Camarena in 1985.

The DEA agent was undercover in Mexico when he was kidnapped in February of that year. mr. Caro Quintero was reportedly in some kind of rage against the US agency after Mr. Camarena helped uncover a huge $160 million marijuana plantation.

mr. Camarena was brutally tortured before being killed: the medical examiner said he was killed by blunt force trauma to the face and head. His mutilated body was found bound hand and foot and wrapped in plastic bags at a ranch near the city of Guadalajara almost a month later.

The murder, the first such killing of a US agent on Mexican soil since the two countries began cooperating against the cartels, shocked both sides of the border and helped accelerate the war on drugs.

The killing sparked a “sense of revenge” and a desire to “derail the Mexican drug trade in a more personal and more radical way than ever before,” Mr. Ernst, analyst at the International Crisis Group. “This is one of the key developments” that helped influence “the whole strategy that was then formulated to go after the heads of these organizations.”

mr. Camarena’s death also became a touchstone in the history of the cartel, depicted in several series, including the latest hit Netflix show Narcos: Mexico. This is also remembered with bitterness by the DEA, which named the San Diego office after Mr. White. Camarena.

The “Red Ribbon Week” drug prevention campaign was also originally launched as a way to honor the memory of a fallen agent.

mr. Caro Quintero initially escaped arrest and fled to Costa Rica, where he was later hunted down by US agents. After returning to Mexico, he was tried and found guilty of orchestrating Mr. Camarena’s murder in 1989.

But in 2013, a judge overturned the conviction, setting Mr. Caro Quintero free, after which he apparently immediately returned to business.

According to his indictment, the cartel leader repeatedly helped bring drugs into the US between 2015 and 2016, including thousands of kilograms of cocaine, as well as methamphetamines, marijuana and heroin in various quantities.