Mexico captures notorious drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, U.S. to seek extradition

Caro Quintero's criminal career spanned decades but was interrupted by a 28-year stint in prison

Updated: July 15, 2022 - 11:41pm

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The Mexican Navy on Friday announced that the country had captured drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, infamous for masterminding the death of a U.S. DEA agent in 1985.

Caro Quintero was arrested after a search dog discovered him hiding in the town of San Simon, Sinaloa, according to the Associated Press. Fourteen Mexican servicemen died during the operation when a helicopter crashed by accident, killing all but one of those aboard.

Caro Quintero's criminal career spanned decades but was interrupted by a 28-year stint in prison. He became a free man in 2013 after a Mexican court overturned his sentence, initially 40 years in prison, for kidnapping and murdering DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985, the AP noted. The Mexican Supreme Court overruled the lower court but Caro Quintero had left law enforcement custody by then.

The drug lord promptly returned to his original business and again earned notoriety in the drug trade, attaining a spot on the FBI's top 10 most wanted list in 2018, per the AP. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday following Caro Quintero's capture that he would seek his extradition to the United States to face trial.

“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement. We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro-Quintero," he said in a press release. "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."