Mexico captures the notorious drug lord behind the kidnapping and murder of a DEA agent

Convicted drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who was convicted in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of a U.S. drug agent, has been captured, the Mexican government said Friday.

Caro Quintero, who was freed in 2013 after spending decades in prison for killing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, was on a national registry of detained people, Mexico’s Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection confirmed. No additional details about his capture were provided. that

A Blackhawk helicopter from Mexico’s navy that was carrying 15 people crashed near the coastal city of Los Mochis during the operation, killing 14 of those aboard, the navy said in a statement. The available information indicated it suffered an “accident,” the cause of which had not yet been determined, the statement said.

The United States will seek immediate extradition, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday night.

Rafael Caro Quintero, circa 2005.
Rafael Caro Quintero, circa 2005.GDA via AP file

“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement,” he said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero. … We will be seeking his immediate extradition to the United States so he can be tried for these crimes in the very justice system Special Agent Camarena died defending.”

Caro Quintero, a onetime leader of the disbanded Guadalajara cartel, is said to have ordered Camarena’s kidnapping and murder as the DEA turned up the heat on Mexican cartels asserting more control of the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia.

The kidnapping and death of Camarena has been documented and fictionalized in recent years by Netflix in “Narcos: Mexico” and the docuseries “The Last Narc.”

Authorities have said Caro Quintero blamed Camarena for a raid on a marijuana grow controlled by his cartel. After he was kidnapped in Guadalajara, Camarena’s body turned up in Mexico roughly a month later with clear signs of torture, they said.

He was convicted in the agent’s kidnapping and killing and sentenced to 40 years, but went free after 28 years when a Mexican court overturned the sentence in 2013.

After his release, Caro Quintero returned to drug trafficking and unleashed bloody turf battles in the northern Mexico border state of Sonora.

He was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2018, with the agency saying he was wanted for Camarena’s kidnapping and murder.

There’s a $20 million reward associated with his capture.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has maintained that he is not interested in detaining drug lords and prefers to avoid violence.

But the arrest came just days after López Obrador met with U.S. President Joe Biden in the White House.

Michelle Acevedo, Associated Press and Andrew Blankstein contributed.