One of the most infamous drug cartel leaders in Mexican history, Rafael Caro Quintero, was arrested Friday by Mexican soldiers in Chihuahua state, according to Reuters. The 69-year-old founder and former leader of the Guadalajara cartel had been a top target of U.S. officials since his release from prison in 2013.
Quintero was the brains behind the torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena on Feb. 8, 1985, in the city of Guadalajara. Though he was caught and convicted, Quintero served only 28 years of his 40-year term before an appeals court in Mexico overturned his sentence in 2013, according to The Associated Press.
When Mexico’s Supreme Court upheld Quintero’s sentence, he had already been whisked away from prison in a vehicle. The appeals court’s decision severely damaged relations between Mexican and U.S. authorities, as Quintero freely resumed trafficking drugs and violently vying for power among cartel factions.
Quintero was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitive list in 2018. The U.S. State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program even offered a $20 million reward for information leading to his arrest, according to the FBI.
The United States will be unable to put Quintero on trial for Camarena’s murder a second time, according to Vice. Quintero, who was depicted in the popular Netflix series “Narcos,” faces a litany of other accusations, however, including racketeering, drug charges and violent crime.
Quintero was responsible for the lion’s share of heroin, cocaine and marijuana trafficked into the United States throughout the 1970s, according to AP. Confident that Camarena had led to the incineration of one of his marijuana plantations in 1984, Quintero had him kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
The Mexican government was urged in 2020 by then-Attorney General William Barr to find and arrest Quintero as a favor for President Donald Trump dropping charges against Mexico’s former defense minister, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, according to The Washington Post.
Quintero’s arrest ultimately followed on the heels of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, however.
What exact charges Quintero will be facing remains unclear.
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