FBI’s most-wanted Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was captured Friday after nearly a decade on the run and $20m bounty
Caro Quintero, 69, was caught when K9 dog sniffed him out in the brushes up in the mountains, eight years after fleeing prison and unleashing turf wars
Mexico’s attorney general’s office confirmed Caro Quintero is being held pending extradition, at the maximum security Altiplano prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City
The drug lord had served 28 of his 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of US DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, when a court overturned his sentence
By the time the Supreme Court reversed the vacated sentence Caro Quintero was out of prison and fled
After fleeing prison in 2013, he went back to drug trafficking and fought a vicious turf war with rival cartels
Infamous Mexican drug baron Rafael Caro Quintero, who for long eluded international law enforcement, has been caught eight years after fleeing jail and unleashing a vicious turf war with rival drug lords. Caro Quintero has been eluded justice since ordering the kidnap and murder of a US drug enforcement agent in 1985.
A statement from the country’s navy stated that the 69-year-old drug lord was captured by Mexican forces on Friday, nearly a decade after his four decade sentence was vacated and he was released from a Mexican prison, only for him to return to drug trafficking.
On July 15, Rafael Caro Quintero ‘El Numero 1’ who rose to become one of the most feared drug cartel leaders in the 1970s and 80s, was arrested after a search dog named Max found him hiding in brush in the town of San Simon in Sinaloa state during a joint operation by the navy and the attorney general’s office, the navy stated.
The search site was in the mountains near Sinaloa’s frontier with the northern border state of Chihuahua. A navy helicopter crashed during the mission.
Caro Quintero was detention as around midday on Friday.
There were two pending arrest orders for him as well as an extradition request from the US government.
The attorney general’s office said in a statement late on Friday that Caro Quintero confirmed had been arrested for extradition and would be held at the maximum security Altiplano prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City.
A short video segment released by the navy showed Caro Quintero with his face blurred, dressed in jeans, a wet blue shirt and baggy khaki jacket, being held by both arms by men wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles.
Caro Quintero was one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the US in the late 1970s. He walked out of jail and vanished in 2013.
He’d spent 28 years in prison at the time, before a court overturned his 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of US Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, 37.
The brutal murder marked a low point in US-Mexico relations.
Caro Quintero reportedly sought revenge against undercover agent Camarena after Mexican authorities raided a 2,500-acre ranch known as El Búfalo in November 1984, seizing and burning over 10,000 tons of marijuana with a street value of $160million.
In retribution, Caro Quintero reportedly, ordered the kidnap of Camarena and his pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar on February 7, 1985, in Guadalajara.
Their bodies were found a month later, wrapped in plastic outside a ranch in the countryside and showed signs of torture.
In addition to Camarena’s murder, Caro Quintero is also believed to have ordered the torture and murder of two US civilians, aspiring novelist John Clay Walker, 36 and dentistry student Albert Radelat, 33, on January 30, 1985.
Walker was staying in Guadalajara on a year-long sabbatical while working on his book.
He and his friend Radalat went out for dinner, when they are said to have stumbled on a private party held by Caro Quintero.
Mistaking the two for drug enforcement agents, Caro Quintero is said to have ordered them into the restaurant store room, where they were beaten and tortured with ice picks.
Walker died during the ordeal but Radalat is believed to have still been alive when they were wrapped in table cloths and buried in the Mexican plains.
Their bodies were found six months later.
Caro Quintero started growing marijuana on a ranch owned by his brother Jorge Luis, before setting up the Guadalajara Cartel with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno and others.
The cartel was among the frontrunners of Mexico’s booming drug trade in the late 1970s and widely feared.
His career as a drug lord, the exploits including the murders of Camarena and Walker are depicted in the Netflix TV series ‘Narcos: Mexico,’ where he is portrayed by actor Tenoch Huerta Mejía.
However, Caro Quintero’s scheduled 40 year prison stint was truncated after only 28 years.
After fleeing prison in 2013, Caro Quintero, the former leader of the Guadalajara cartel, returned to drug trafficking and unleashed bloody turf battles in the northern Mexico border state of Sonora.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has maintained he is not interested in detaining drug lords and prefers to avoid violence, but the arrest came days after he met US President Joe Biden at the White House.
There had been tensions between the Mexican government and the DEA after Mexico enacted a law limiting the US agency’s operations.
However, the US agency’s new head in Mexico had recently received a visa, which US officials marked as a sign of progress in the relationship.
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 had been spirited off in a waiting vehicle.
He was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a 20 million dollar (£16.8 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.