A Mexican drug kingpin who ordered a DEA agent to be murdered has been released from prison by Mexican authorities in a move that has angered American officials.
Rafael Caro Quintero was convicted in Mexican courts in 1985 of ordering DEA agent Enrique Camarena to be killed. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but after 28 years behind bars the Mexican drug kingpin has been released after a court ruled his trial should have taken place at a state rather than federal level.
Quintero was a leader of the Guadalajara cartel, the drug-running group that would later become the brutal Sinaloa cartel now headed by drug lord Joaquin “Shorty’ Guzman. In the pre-dawn hours on Friday he was released from Puente Grande prison, with journalists not notified until hours later and the United States being given no prior notification.
”There are various factors, and among them the fact that he already served his time for drug trafficking,” a court official said about the release.
The release of the Mexican drug kingpin is especially angering to the DEA given the history of the case. Camarena had been responsible for a number of successful drug arrests that hurt Caro Quintero’s drug empire, so in retribution the kingpin ordered the agent to be kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
Tensions between the United States and Mexico grew worse after the killing, with the DEA accusing Mexican officials of lackluster efforts to bring the agent’s killer to justice.
On Friday, the DEA released a statement criticizing Caro Quintero’s release.
“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,” it said.
But the Mexican drug kingpin could still be brought to justice. The US Justice Department said it is discussing the possibility of extraditing Rafael Caro Quintero to face charges in the United States.