Mexican President Defends Release of Drug Kingpin Who Tortured/Killed DEA Agent

By: SEAN HANRAHAN

Dos años de AMLO en México: ¿un gobierno de izquierda? | LSE Latin America  and Caribbean

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has issued a statement publicly defending the 2013 release of Cartel boss Rafael Caro Quintero. Quintero was imprisoned on a 40-year sentence for his role in the torture and killing of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The president reported that the imprisonment of Quintero did not reflect due process as he was jailed for 27 years without a verdict. The statement contradicts the Supreme Court of Mexico which has called the ruling a mistake.

López Obrador’s spokesman Jesus Ramirez has elaborated on the statement. “the president was just saying that it was a legal aberration that the judge had not issued a verdict on Mr. Caro Quintero after 27 years … but he was not defending his release,” Ramirez said.

Quintero was one of the founding members of the Guadalajara Cartel which operated in the late 1970s and 1980s. Agent Camarena was tortured and killed on Quintero’s orders due to his involvement in a raid on a Marijuana plantation in 1985. Quintero was arrested two months later in Costa Rica.

Quintero was suddenly released in 2013 without the Mexican prosecutors or the DEA being notified. Five days after his release, a warrant was issued for his rearrest. López Obrador maintains that the release was legally justified and the only reason for his rearrest warrant is United States pressure.

Following the warrant’s announcement, Quintero became a fugitive and is currently at large. He is at the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list with a 20 million dollar award for information leading to his arrest. Some sources claim Quintero is involved in drug trafficking in the state of Sonora, however, this is disputed.

López Obrador has previously stated that the Mexican government is not interested in arresting drug lords anymore. Furthermore, his statements on Quintero’s release come following his own release of Sinaloa Cartel leader “El Chapo” Guzman’s son Ovidio from federal imprisonment in 2019.

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