Mexico court reverses ruling that freed “The Narco of Narcos”

Mexico court reverses ruling that freed “The Narco of Narcos”

Rafael Caro Quintero

It was officially announced on Friday January 16th, that a Mexican court has reversed the 2013 ruling that freed drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero from prison, declaring him criminally responsible for the kidnap-murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and his pilot.

The Federal Judiciary Council, or CJF, the top administrative body of Mexico’s judiciary, said the court handed down the ruling Friday pursuant to a Supreme Court resolution issued in 2013.

The 62-year-old Caro Quintero disappeared after leaving a penitentiary in the western state of Jalisco in the early morning hours of August 9, 2013, and his whereabouts is unknown.

A founder of the now-defunct Guadalajara cartel, Caro Quintero had been behind bars since 1985 for a raft of offenses, including the abduction, torture and killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala.


A federal appellate panel in Jalisco ordered Caro Quintero freed after concluding he had served his sentences for drugs and racketeering and that the penalty imposed for Camarena’s murder was invalid because of a jurisdictional error in the original trial.

The ruling sparked outrage in Washington and Mexican authorities moved quickly to obtain a warrant for Caro Quintero’s arrest.

On Nov. 6, 2013, Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling that voided Caro Quintero’s murder conviction and led to his release.

Courts in Mexico have rejected two previous attempts to extradite him, citing the risk that he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment in the United States.

Mexican law bars capital punishment and open-ended prison sentences.

The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Caro Quintero, a native of Sinaloa state who amassed a fortune estimated at nearly $500 million.

Mexican Drug Lord RafaelCaro Quintero “The Narco of Narcos”

(The following is an article written by Malcolm Beith* on 

The release of Rafael Caro Quintero from a Mexican prison in August 2013 was a blow to US-Mexico relations, the reputation of the Mexican justice system, and the drug war.

Caro Quintero had been imprisoned since 1989 for drug trafficking, murder, and perhaps most importantly the abduction, torture and killing of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). When Caro Quintero was freed in August 2013 — a federal court overturned his sentence because he had been tried in a state court rather than a federal one — the US State Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest, while the Mexican Attorney General’s Office also issued a new warrant for his apprehension.

(This article originally appeared in the Combating Terrorism Center’s publication, the CTC Sentinel. See the original here.)