South America news

Mexico arrests drug lord Caro Quintero, needed for killing U.S. agent

MEXICO CITY, July 15 (Reuters) – Mexico’s navy on Friday captured drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, convicted of murdering a U.S. anti-narcotics agent in 1985, in a regulation enforcement coup that got here at a heavy price when a helicopter used within the mission crashed, killing 14 navy personnel.

Marines flushed out Caro Quintero with a bloodhound in a far-flung nook of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, considered one of Mexico’s drug-trafficking heartlands, earlier than the Black Hawk chopper got here down because it was about to land additional south.

Caro Quintero rose to prominence as a co-founder of the Guadalajara Cartel, considered one of Latin America’s strongest drug trafficking organizations throughout the Nineteen Eighties, and had been among the many most prized targets for U.S. officers.

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The U.S. authorities hailed the arrest, and stated it will waste no time in requesting his extradition.

“That is enormous,” White Home senior Latin America adviser Juan Gonzalez stated on Twitter.

Caro Quintero was captured in San Simon within the Sinaloa municipality of Choix after the military-trained feminine bloodhound named Max discovered him in shrub land, the navy stated.

The arrest comes after stress from the USA, based on a Mexican official, and the identical week that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington.

Lopez Obrador stated on Twitter the navy would examine what induced the crash of the helicopter within the metropolis of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, that killed 14 and left one significantly injured. He stated it had been carrying navy personnel who have been backing up the staff that arrested the kingpin.

Caro Quintero spent 28 years in jail for the brutal homicide and torture of former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, probably the most infamous killings in Mexico’s bloody narco wars. The occasions, dramatized within the 2018 Netflix collection “Narcos: Mexico,” led to a nadir in U.S.-Mexico co-operation in a five-decade “struggle on medication.”

Caro Quintero has beforehand denied involvement within the killing of Camarena. He was launched in 2013 on a technicality by a Mexican decide, embarrassing the earlier authorities.

He shortly went underground and returned to trafficking as a part of the Sinaloa Cartel, based on U.S. officers, who put him on the FBI’s High 10 most needed fugitives record and put a $20 million bounty on his head, a document for a drug trafficker.

Final yr, he misplaced a last enchantment in opposition to extradition to the USA. He will likely be extradited as shortly as attainable, one other Mexican official stated.

“It’s in all probability probably the most necessary captures of the final decade by way of significance to the DEA,” stated Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of worldwide operations.

U.S. Lawyer Normal Merrick Garland stated he would search Caro Quintero’s speedy extradition.

“There isn’t any hiding place for anybody who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American regulation enforcement. We’re deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for his or her seize and arrest of Rafael Caro-Quintero,” Garland stated in an announcement.

Earlier than extradition, Caro Quintero will likely be held in Altiplano jail within the state of Mexico, Mexican prosecutors stated. The penitentiary is infamous because the one from which his previous Sinaloa Cartel affiliate Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped in 2015.

Whereas the 69-year-old Caro Quintero is not thought of a serious participant in worldwide drug trafficking, the symbolic impression of his seize is critical.

The arrest factors to vital cooperation between the USA and Mexico regardless of current clashes over safety, stated Mexican safety knowledgeable Alejandro Hope. “One of these seize is unthinkable with out the participation of the DEA,” he stated.

Mexico’s unwillingness to extradite Caro Quintero to the USA earlier than his launch from jail had been a supply of pressure between the 2 international locations. A U.S. official stated Washington was very desirous to have him extradited.

“This can hopefully begin to mend the frayed relationship between the USA and Mexico by way of combating drug trafficking,” stated former DEA official Vigil.

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Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Drazen Jorgic, Dave Graham and Jackie Botts; Further reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Drazen Jorgic and Brendan O’Boyle; Enhancing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Rosalba O’Brien and William Mallard

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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