Rafael Caro Quintero
|Rafael Caro Quintero|
October 3, 1952 |
La Noria, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico
|Employer||Founder of Guadalajara Cartel|
|Successor||Miguel Caro Quintero|
|Parents||Emilio Caro Payán (father)
Hermelinda Quintero (mother)
Arrested in Costa Rica on April 4, 1985. He was released from prison on August 9, 2013.
Rafael Caro Quintero (born October 3, 1952) is a Mexican drug trafficker who founded the now-disintegrated Guadalajara Cartel with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and other drug traffickers in the 1970s. He is the brother of fellow drug trafficker Miguel Caro Quintero, the founder and former leader of the extinct Sonora Cartel who remains incarcerated.
Having formed the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1970s, Caro Quintero worked with Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, and Pedro Avilés Pérez by shipping large sums of marijuana to the United States from Mexico. He was allegedly responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena Salazar, his pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar, American writer John Clay Walker and dentistry student Alberto Radelat in 1985. After the alleged murders, he fled to Costa Rica but was later arrested and extradited back to Mexico, where he was sentenced to 40-years in prison for murder. Following his arrest, the Guadalajara Cartel disintegrated, and its leaders were incorporated into the Tijuana Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel and Juárez Cartels.
Caro Quintero was freed from jail on August 9, 2013 after a state court concluded that he had been tried improperly. However, amid pressure from the U.S. government to re-arrest him, a Mexican federal court issued an arrest warrant against Quintero on August 14. He is a wanted fugitive in Mexico, the U.S., and in several other countries.
Rafael Caro Quintero was born in the community of La Noria, Badiraguato, Sinaloa on 3 October 1952. His parents, Emilio Caro Payán and Hermelinda Quintero, had twelve children, him being the oldest of the males. Though his father worked in agriculture and grazing, he died when Caro Quintero was fourteen years old. With his father's absence, he worked to take care of his family alongside his mother. At the age of sixteen, he left La Noria and settled in Caborca, Sonora, where he worked in livestock grazing. Two years later, he worked as a truck driver in Sinaloa. He also worked at a bean and corn plantation in Sinaloa before deciding to leave his home state to join the drug trade altogether in the neighboring state of Chihuahua.
Caro Quintero allegedly began to grow marijuana at a low scale at the ranch owned by his brother Jorge Luis when he was a teenager. In less than five years, he managed to buy several other ranches in the surrounding areas and began to amass a fortune. He is said to have first worked for the drug traffickers Pedro Avilés Pérez and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo before forming the Guadalajara Cartel with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, and others in the late 1970s. He has been cited as a pioneer of the drug trade in Mexico and has been described as one of the preeminent drug traffickers of his generation.
Collaboration with the DFS and CIA
The Guadalajara Cartel prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the intelligence agency then know as Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS-Federal Security Directorate) under its chief Miguel Nassar Haro, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset.
His cartel was also benefited by the CIA for having connections with the Honduran drug lord Juan Matta-Ballesteros, who, according to a 1983 U.S. Customs Investigative Report, was the head of the SETCO airline, a corporation that was used for smuggling narcotics into the United States. According to the Kerry Committee report, the SETCO airline was the principal company used by the Contras in Honduras to transport at least a million rounds of ammunition, food, uniforms, military supplies and personnel for the FDN (one of the earliest Contra groups) from 1983 through 1985. For its services SETCO received funds from the accounts established by Oliver North.
His partner and cartel co-founder, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, provided a significant amount of funding, weapons, and other aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Gallardo's pilot, Werner Lotz stated that Gallardo once had him deliver $150,000 in cash to a Contra group, and Gallardo often boasted about smuggling arms to them. His activities were known to several U.S. federal agencies, including the CIA and DEA, but he was granted immunity due to his "charitable contributions to the Contras".
Allegations of involvement in murders
John Clay Walker and Albert Radelat
Caro Quintero has been accused of ordering the abduction, torture and murder of writer John Clay Walker and dentistry student Albert Radelat on January 30, 1985. According to the allegations, the two Americans were dining in a Guadalajara restaurant when they encountered Caro Quintero and his men as they accidentally walked into one of his private parties. Caro Quintero is alleged to have then ordered his men to seize the Americans and take them to a store room, where they were tortured with ice picks and interrogated them. John Walker died on the scene from blunt force trauma to the head. Albert Radelat was still living when the men were wrapped in table cloths and taken to a park near the city and buried. The bodies of the men were found six months later buried at the San Isidro Mazatepec Park in Zapopan. The authorities believe that Caro Quintero had mistaken Walker and Radelat for U.S. undercover agents.
Caro Quintero has also been accused of involvement in the murder of US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar. In November 1984, the Mexican authorities raided a 220 acre ranch known as El Búfalo in the state of Chihuahua, owned by Caro Quintero. The authorities reportedly burned more than 10,000 tons of marijuana – totaling a loss of around $160 million. Camarena Salazar, who had been working undercover in Mexico, was said to be responsible for leading the authorities to the ranch. This allegedly prompted Caro Quintero and other high-ranking members of the Guadalajara Cartel to seek revenge against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Camarena. In retribution, Camarena and his pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar were allegedly kidnapped in Guadalajara on 7 February 1985 and brutally tortured and murdered. Caro Quintero allegedly buried the two bodies in a clandestine grave in the state of Michoacán. He then left Mexico on 9 March 1985 with his associates and his girlfriend Sara Cristina Cosío Gaona. Former Mexican Judicial Police chief Armando Pavón Reyes reportedly allowed Caro Quintero to flee from the airport in Guadalajara to seek refuge in Costa Rica in a private jet after paying a $300,000 bribe. The police chief was fired shortly afterwards and was charged with bribery and complicity in the Camarena murder.
Locals from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Caro Quintero's hometown, recall that the Caro Quintero was a benefactor in the area in the 1980s. The town's mayor Ángel Robles Bañuelos said in a 2013 interview that Caro Quintero financed the construction of a 40 kilometer (25 mile) long highway in Badiraguato and helped electrify the area. The mayor recalled that before the highway was built, it would take days for people to travel in and out of Badiraguato.
Arrest and aftermath
On April 4, 1985, Caro Quintero was arrested in Puntarenas, Costa Rica and extradited to Mexico on charges of involvement in Camarena's murder. He was sentenced to 40 years for the murder of Camarena and other crimes. The US also hopes to try Caro Quintero and the DEA still has him listed as a wanted fugitive. Caro Quintero was first imprisoned at the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 maximum security prison Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Even though Quintero was to face a maximum of 199 years in prison, Mexican law during that time did not allow for inmates to serve more than 40. On 2007, he was transferred to the another maximum security prison known as Puente Grande in the state of Jalisco. On 2010, a federal judge granted him the right to be transferred to another prison in Jalisco.
Caro Quintero's Guadalajara Cartel fell apart in the early 1990s, and its remaining leaders went on to establish their own drug trafficking organizations: in Tijuana, a large family formed the Tijuana Cartel; in Chihuahua, a group controlled by Amado Carrillo Fuentes formed the Juárez Cartel; and the remaining faction left to Sinaloa and formed the Sinaloa Cartel under the traffickers Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán and Ismael El Mayo Zambada. Caro Quintero's brother Miguel Caro Quintero succeeded him and formed the Sonora Cartel, which branched out of the Sinaloa organization. The United States government believes that Caro Quintero ran his criminal empire behind bars through at least six of his family members by creating a front that laundered millions of dollars through a gas station, construction company, shoe factory, restaurant, real estate development companies, among others.
On the early hours of August 9, 2013, a tribunal ordered the immediate release of Caro Quintero after 28 years in prison. The Jalisco state court ruled that Caro Quintero was tried improperly in a federal courtroom for crimes that should have been treated at a state level. When Quintero was given his 40-year sentence in the 1980s, he was convicted for murder (a state crime) and not for drug trafficking (a federal one).[A 1] The Federal Judiciary Council ordered his release after serving time for other crimes he committed throughout his reign as leader of the Guadalajara Cartel. The release of Caro Quintero outraged the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama; the United States Department of Justice said they were "extremely disappointed" with the drug lord's release and stated that they were going to pursue Caro Quintero for pending charges in the United States. The Association of Former Federal Narcotics Agents expressed their disappointment too but stated that Quintero's release was a result of the corruption that besets Mexico's judicial system. Mexico's Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam also expressed his concern on the case, stating that he was "worried" about Quintero's release and said he would investigate whether additional charges were pending in Mexico.
On August 14, 2013, a federal court granted the Office of the General Prosecutor (Spanish: Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) an arrest warrant against Caro Quintero after the United States government issued a petition to the Mexican government. Once the Mexican authorities re-arrest Quintero, the U.S. government has a maximum limit of 60 days to present a formal extradition request. Mexico's Attorney General clarified, however, that if arrested, Caro Quintero cannot be extradited to the United States for the murder of Camarena because Mexican law prohibits criminals from being tried for the same crime in another country. U.S. lawyers, nonetheless, may argue that Quintero's initial trial was illegitimate in the first place and that double jeopardy is not applicable. In order for Caro Quintero's extradition to be accepted by Mexico, the United States has to present other criminal charges and accept that he would not face the death penalty if convicted because there are no laws for capital punishment in Mexico. Following Caro Quintero's release from prison on August 9, he has not been seen in public. There were rumors, however, that he had paid a visit to his hometown of Badiraguato, Sinaloa. Caro Quintero is among the 15 most-wanted fugitives of Interpol. If arrested abroad, he will be immediately extradited to Mexico.
- "¿Quién es Rafael Caro Quintero?". Milenio (in Spanish). 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- (subscription required) "Caro Quintero según Caro Quintero". Proceso (magazine) (in Spanish). 23 April 1988. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Galarza, Gerardo (10 August 2013). "1985, el año que se desató el narco". Excélsior (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "¿Quién es Rafael Caro Quintero?". Terra Networks (in Spanish). 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Rafael Caro Quintero: uno de los pioneros del narcotráfico en México". CNNMéxico (in Spanish). Turner Broadcasting System. 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Treasury Sanctions Mexican Traffickers Tied to Camarena Murder". Drug Enforcement Administration. 12 July 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Wilkinson, Tracy (9 August 2013). "Convicted killer of DEA's 'Kiki' Camarena freed from Mexican prison". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Strange, Hannah (9 August 2013). "Mexican drug lord who ordered hit on US agent Enrique Camarena freed on appeal after 28 years". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Peter Dale Scott (2000), "Washington and the politics of drugs", (pdf). Variantorg.uk, 2(11)
- Cockburn, Alexander & St-Clair, Jeffrey (1998). Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press. Verso. p. 282. ISBN 9781859841396.
- Bunck, Julie M. & Fowler, Michael R. (2012). Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation: Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America. Penn State Press. p. 274. ISBN 9780271048666.
- Scott, Peter Dale & Marshall, Jonathan (1998). Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Latin America. University of California Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780520921283.
- United Press International (18 June 1985). "Two Bodies Unearthed in Mexico Forest". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- Aguilar Camín, Héctor (May 2007). "Narco Historias extraordinarias". Nexos (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Ramírez Yáñez, Jaime (9 August 2013). "La caída de Rafael Caro Quintero". El Economista (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- Seper, Jerry (5 March 2010). "Brutal DEA agent murder reminder of agency priority". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Lieberman, Paul (23 May 1999). "Agents Say Mexico Officials Stymied Raid : Camarena trial: Prosecutors allege that destroying more than 10,000 tons of marijuana enraged drug cartel, prompting them to seek revenge against DEA". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Tobar, Hector (13 December 1989). "Drug Lord Convicted in Camarena's 1985 Murder : Narcotics: He draws a prison term of 40 years. A Mexican judge sentences his "enforcer" and 23 others in the U.S. drug agent's killing". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Manning, Carl (13 August 1986). "Former police commander convicted of bribery". The Associated Press. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- García, Joan (13 August 2013). "Edil pinta al narcotraficante Caro Quintero como benefactor". Excélsior (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- González 1996, p. 15.
- Mosso, Rubén (9 August 2013). "Ordenan libertad inmediata de Caro Quintero". Milenio (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Fausset, Richard (12 June 2013). "Decades after a Mexican kingpin's arrest, his fortune echoes". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Lanza DEA alerta para detener a Caro Quintero". Proceso (magazine). 13 December 2012. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "DEA Fugitive: CARO-QUINTERO, Rafael". Drug Enforcement Administration. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Perfil: Rafael Caro Quintero". El Universal (Mexico City) (in Spanish). 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Edmonds-Poli 2012, p. 262.
- García, Carolina (8 October 2009). "La historia de Kiki, Caro Quintero, y el listón rojo". El Universal (Mexico City) (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Grayson, George W. "Mexico and the Drug Cartels". Foreign Policy Research Institute. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Treasury Sanctions the Network of Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero". United States Department of the Treasury. 12 June 2013. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "US Angry Over Release Of Mexican Drug Lord". NPR. 11 August 2013. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Cawley, Marguerite (15 August 2013). "Mexico Files for Arrest of Released Capo at US Request". InSight Crime. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- "Rafael Caro Quintero, infamous Mexican drug lord, ordered released after 28 years in prison". CBS News. 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Weissentein, Michael (11 August 2013). "Rafael Caro Quintero Released: U.S. Angry Mexico Sets Free Drug Lord Who Killed DEA Agent". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- McVeigh, Karen (11 August 2013). "US 'deeply concerned' over freeing of Mexico drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Jackson, David (11 August 2013). "White House protests release of Caro Quintero". USA Today. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Juez concede orden de detención contra Caro Quintero". El Universal (Mexico City) (in Spanish). 14 August 2013. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Baker, Peter (14 August 2013). "U.S. Seeks Arrest of Mexican Kingpin Who Was Freed in American’s Murder". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Weissentein, Michael (14 August 2013). "US Formally Requests Re-Arrest of Freed Drug Lord". ABC News. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Zúñiga, Carlos (12 August 2013). "Caro Quintero no está en Badiraguato: alcalde". Milenio (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Búsqueda de Caro Quintero se extiende a 190 países". Univision (in Spanish). 1 October 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- "Caro Quintero, en la lista de los 15 delincuentes más buscados por la Interpol". Proceso (magazine) (in Spanish). 16 December 2013. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Cockburn, Alexander (1998). Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press. Verso. p. 408. ISBN 1859841392.
- Edmonds-Poli, Emily (2012). Contemporary Mexican Politics. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 379. ISBN 1442207566.
- González, Fernando Manuel (1996). Una historia sencilla: la muerte accidental de un cardenal (in Spanish). Plaza y Valdes. p. 201. ISBN 9688564680.
- Kuykendall, James (2005). O Plata o Plomo? Silver or Lead?. Xlibris Corporation. p. 236. ISBN 1599260026.