America’s most wanted drug lord lands in Mexican jail


America’s most wanted drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was never in doubt — hence the US$20 million reward for information leading to his capture — there was less certainty about the commitment of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had made clear his lack of interest in pursuing drug lords. Because, according to media reports, the Mexican government and the cartels are in the drug trade together, while US President Joe Biden’s open-borders policy is helping the cartel is making at least US$100 million every week. That is one of the reasons Mexican authorities do not take any measures in stopping people from crossing trough Mexico-US borders and enter the United States. Most alarming fact is – members of the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels are succeeding in entering the US under the disguise of illegal immigrants. Once they enter the US, they begin operating on behalf of the drug cartel bosses and quickly become rich.

Rafael Caro Quintero is allegedly responsible for the murder of a DEA agent more than three decades ago. Quintero operates from deep in the mountains of his native state of Sinaloa.

Arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero came at a heavy cost: Fourteen Mexican marines died and another was injured when a navy Blackhawk helicopter crashed during the operation. The navy said it appeared to have been an accident, with the cause under investigation.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that Caro Quintero was arrested for extradition to the United States and would be held at the maximum security Altiplano prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram celebrated the capture of a man especially despised by US officials for the torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985.

“Our incredible DEA team in Mexico worked in partnership with Mexican authorities to capture and arrest Rafael Caro Quintero”, she said in a message to news agencies. “Today’s arrest is the result of years of our blood, sweat, and tears”.

Cooperation between the DEA and Mexico’s marines had led to some of the highest-profile captures during previous administrations, but not under López Obrador, noted security analyst David Saucedo.

“It seems to me that in the private talks between President Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) they surely agreed to turning over high-profile drug traffickers again, which had been suspended”, Saucedo said.

Both presidents face domestic pressure to do more against drug traffickers. With Caro Quintero’s arrest, “Narcos are being captured again and I believe that clearly it was what was in fact needed”, Saucedo said.

But, Samuel González, a security analyst, who founded the organized crime office in Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office is not seeing any change in the operations of drug cartels following the arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero. He said, the capture may not have a major effect on the map of organized crime in Mexico, as Caro Quintero was not as powerful as decades ago, and it might even generate more violence in territories such as Sonora, at the US border.

But he said that to López Obrador’s benefit, the arrest “shows evidence that there’s no protection of capos” by his administration.

González believes Caro Quintero has long been a thorn in the bilateral relationship, but said that “without doubt” his capture was fruit of the recent negotiations in Washington.

Mexico’s navy and Attorney’s General Office led the operation deep in the mountains that straddle the border between Sinaloa and Chihuahua states, many miles from any paved road. They found Caro Quintero, with help of “Max”, hiding in brush in a place in Sinaloa called San Simon.

Caro Quintero came from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, the same township as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which formed later. Caro Quintero was one of the founders of the Guadalajara cartel and according to the DEA was one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Caro Quintero had blamed Camarena for a raid on a huge marijuana plantation in 1984. The next year, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on orders from Caro Quintero. His tortured body was found a month later.

Caro Quintero was captured in Costa Rica in 1985 and was serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico when an appeals court overturned his verdict in 2013.

The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, but it was too late — Caro Quintero had been spirited off in a waiting vehicle.

Caro Quintero was added to FBI’s 10 most wanted list in 2018 with a US$20 million reward for his capture.

Mexican reporter Anabel Hernandez twice interviewed the fugitive Caro Quintero in the mountains of northern Mexico without revealing the location. Caro Quintero claimed in those interviews that he was no longer involved in the drug trade.


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