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A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

Caro Quintero re-arrest ordered after U.S. extradition request

     The re-arrest of drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero was ordered Wednesday by a Mexican judge after a U.S. extradition request. U.S. authorities are seeking Caro Quintero's apprehension because of drug-trafficking operations in the United States. Caro Quintero was released last week after a judicial panel ruled that he should have been tried in state, not federal, court for the kidnapping and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in 1985.
Story, El Universal, in El Mexicano (PDF).
Associated Press story in El Mexicano Sunday (PDF) about U.S. indignation over Caro Quintero release. Jump page.

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013

Release of drug trafficker Caro Quintero, falling apart of corruption case against Raúl Salinas seen as part of "enduring dysfunction" of Mexico's justice system, Los Angeles Times reports

Update, Aug. 12: Former Caro Quintero attorney tells Frontera that Caro Quintero ordered Camarena's kidnapping and participated in his torture, but did not kill him or order him killed

rafael caro quintero      Friday's release of drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero on a technicality and the falling apart of a corruption case against Raúl Salinas are being seen as part of an "enduring dysfunction" of Mexico's justice system, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

       Caro Quintero, 61, was freed after a panel of judges said that Caro Quintero should not have been tried in federal court for the 1985 torture-murder of U.S. Drug Enforcment Administration agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena because Camarena was not a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

     enrique camarena exhibit overview dea museum  The United State hopes to be able to extradite Caro Quintero, who had served 28 years of a 40-year sentence.

      Raúl Salinas, the brother of former President Carlos Salinas (1988-1994), was sometimes referred to as Mr. Ten Percent because of his rumored take on some government projects and programs. 

     The story by Tracy Wilkinson and Richard Fausset quoted University of San Diego Mexico expert David Shirk, who has been examining Mexico's move to an oral trial system that theoretically will provide better justice. He said the old system was like "Three Little Pigs" — "Mexican prosecutors were building straw houses — and they need to start building them out of brick."
Oral trial system may begin in Tecate in August.

      Camarena was from Calexico, Calif., although he was born in neighboring Mexicali, the Imperial Valley Press reported in a story in which many Calexico residents expressed anger and dismay at Caro Quintero's release. A library and a junior high school are named after Camarena in Calexico. Imperial Valley Press story by Chelcey Adami.

Los Angeles Times front-page story: "Two cases bolster suspicion of Mexico's justice system: The collapse of high-profile cases against two well-connected men leaves many dismayed by what they see as enduring dysfunction."

Story, U-T San Diego: Members of Camarena family, many of whom live in San Diego, are unavailable for comment or have none.

DEA statement on Caro Quintero release: "Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration was deeply troubled to learn of the decision by a Mexican court to release infamous drug trafficker Rafael Caro-Quintero from a Mexican prison. Caro-Quintero had been serving a 40 year prison sentence in connection with the kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in February 1985. Caro-Quintero was the mastermind and organizer of this atrocious act. We are reminded every day of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Special Agent Camarena and DEA will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Caro-Quintero faces charges in the United States for the crimes he committed."
DEA Museum exhibit on Camarena and Caro Quintero.

Update, Aug. 11: White House statement on release.

Update, Aug. 12: Former Caro Quintero attory Humberto Valdez Ramos tells Frontera that Caro Quintero says he ordered the kidnapping of Camarena and participated in his torture but did not order the killing of Camarena or kill him. Valdez Ramos said the United States politicized the case from the beginning, and that both the United States and Mexico violated the law in their pursuit of Caro Quintero and others in the case. Valdez Ramos said he and other lawyers were illegally detained by the Mexican government in November 1985 to inhibit Caro Quintero's defense. Camarena was kidnapped after traffickers determined he had been responsible for the destruction of a huge marijuana plantation.

Story, Frontera (PDF). Jump page.

Update, Aug. 13: Former Caro Quintero attorney Humberto Valdez Ramos says Caro Quintero took to studying while in prison and did high-school coursework; Valdez Ramos said Caro Quintero, when captured, did not know to read or write. Story, Frontera (PDF).

Update, Aug. 14: Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam says the government is looking into ways to reimprison Caro Quintero. He said the United States did not have an extradition request pending when Caro Quintero was released, and pointed out that this is not a case of total impunity, nothing that Caro Quintero did spend the last 28 years in prison. He said the U.S. could not extradite Caro Quintero for the Camarena killing, but could extradite him on other charges. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade also said the government was looking at ways to reinstate charges.

Jan. 29, 1999 column: "Raúl Salinas case shows ways to improve legal system"

Oct. 13, 2000 column: "Raúl Salinas' lover may bare more in new play" 

Monday, Aug. 19, 2013

L.A. Times details killings of 6 other Americans apparently by Caro Quintero gang in cases of mistaken identity in late 1984 and early 1985

       The Los Angeles Times' Tracy Wilkinson, in a front-page article Monday, tells the story of six Americans who apparently were killed by Rafael Caro Quintero's gang in late 1984 and early 1985 in Guadalajara. Caro Quintero was recently released on a technicality in the February 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena and his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala Avelar.
       Two young Jehovah's Witness couples were killed in early December 1984 in an apparent case of being mistaken for Drug Enforcement Administration agents not long after Camarena had caused the destruction of a huge marijuana plantation. The wives also apparently were raped. The couples were Ben and Pat Mascarenas of Nevada, and Dennis and Rose Carlson of the Redding, Calif., environs. They were going door-to-door distributing Jehovah's Witness materials and apparently knocked on the door of a senior trafficker, Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca, the paper reported.
        In late January 1985, after Minnesotan John Walker had moved to Guadalajara with his family to write a novel, he and a friend, Albert Radelat, were apparently mistaken for DEA agents when visiting a restaurant where Caro Quintero and his gang were eating, the paper said.
        Walker and Radelat's bodies were later recovered; the bodies of the two couples were not, the story says.

Los Angeles Times story: "Mexican drug lord's release reopens wounds for victims' relatives: Rafael Caro Quintero, recently freed on a technicality, was convicted in the killing of a U.S. agent. But questions remain in the slayings of other Americans."