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Home / Enrique "Kiki" Camarena

Drug lord Caro Quintero wanted in LA for DEA agent’s 1985 murder


A drug lord captured Friday in Mexico following his release from prison nearly a decade ago after serving 28 years of a 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnap and murder of an American narcotics agent will face extradition to Los Angeles for trial, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rafael Caro Quintero and co-defendants were indicted in May 1987 in Los Angeles federal court on conspiracy and racketeering charges related to the kidnapping, torture and murder in Mexico of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

In the years since, federal prosecutors have pressed for Caro Quintero’s extradition and a warrant was issued so that he might face trial in the United States for the killing.

Caro Quintero was captured Friday near the town of San Simón in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, according to news reports. 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.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement that the DOJ would seek his “immediate” extradition.

“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement,” Garland said in a statement.

“We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero. Today’s arrest is the culmination of tireless work by DEA and their Mexican partners to bring Caro Quintero to justice for his alleged crimes, including the torture and execution of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

“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 Camarena died defending.”

In 2013, 28 years after being convicted for the Camarena killing, Caro Quintero’s petition for early release was granted by a Mexican court that ruled he was improperly tried in federal court for a crime that should have been handled as a state offense.

Caro Quintero, 69, is considered among the first of the Mexican drug lords.

Prosecutors contend he ordered Camarena kidnapped, tortured and killed because the DEA agent had insisted that Mexican authorities raid a 220-acre marijuana plantation in central Mexico. Authorities said the bust netted up to five tons of marijuana and cost Caro Quintero and his gang about $8 billion in lost sales.

Camarena was kidnapped on Feb. 7, 1985, in Guadalajara, the capital of Mexican state of Jalisco. His body and that of his Mexican pilot, both showing signs of torture, were found a month later, buried in shallow graves.

Caro Quintero was eventually arrested in Costa Rica.

The Camarena killing resulted in strained relations between Mexico and Washington. U.S. officials accused Mexican authorities of cooperating with Caro Quintero and allowing him to get away.

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