A Mexican judge on Wednesday ordered the arrest of notorious drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero — who was freed last week on a technicality — after receiving a US extradition request.
US authorities were outraged by the surprise release of Caro Quintero, who had served just 28 years of a 40-year sentence for the abduction, torture and killing of a US drug agent in 1985.
The 60-year-old, once a senior figure in a now-defunct cartel, was convicted of killing the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s Enrique Camarena and his Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala.
However, on Aug. 7, a judge in the western state of Jalisco ordered his release, and Caro Quintero has gone missing since he left prison.
The federal judge accepted the request from the US government, saying Caro Quintero was wanted for “various offenses” in the state of California, the Mexican attorney general’s office said.
If and when Caro Quintero is detained, US authorities will have 60 days to submit a formal extradition request, it added.
The US National Security Council on Sunday said it was “deeply concerned” by Caro Quintero’s release and feared another individual connected to the Camarena killing could also be set free.
Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade downplayed the dispute over the release, saying it would not affect relations with Washington because both governments opposed the court ruling, which he said should be “revised.”
Caro Quintero was a leading figure in the Guadalajara Cartel. The now-defunct organization was one of the early Mexican drug mafias that linked up with Colombian groups to smuggle cocaine and other drugs into the US.