Photo: Rafael Caro Quintero
A Mexican court refused to block the arrest of fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who is wanted by U.S. authorities in connection with the 1985 murder of a DEA agent.
Attorneys for Caro Quintero, who remains in hiding 10 months after his release from a Mexican prison, had asked a court in this capital to quash the arrest warrant.
The 61-year-old Caro Quintero disappeared after leaving a penitentiary in the western state of Jalisco in the wee hours of last Aug. 9.
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.
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, Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling that voided Caro Quintero’s murder conviction and led to his release.
The kingpin’s lawyers say turning him over to the United States for trial in the Camarena murder would violate the Mexican Constitution, as Caro Quintero has already been tried in Mexico for that crime.
There is no current U.S. extradition request for Caro Quintero.
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.