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Column 091613 Wall

Monday, September 16, 2013

Predictably, a Freed Mexican Drug Kingpin has Flown the Coop

By Allan Wall

Recent months in Mexico have seen some captures of high-level drug cartel barons, but also the release of a notorious cartel boss, which shocked many people.

On July 15th, the Mexican Navy captured Miguel Treviño, known as Z-40, or el Cuarenta, on a dirt road near Anahuac, Nuevo Leon, near the U.S. border. Treviño was the leader of the Zetas. (See The Mexican Navy Downs a Cartel Leader but Loses an Admiral).

The next month, on August 17th, the Mexican Army, in a joint Army-Navy operation, captured Mario Ramirez, also known as X-20, leader of the Gulf Cartel. Mario Ramirez and two henchmen were caught in Tamaulipas, located on Mexico's northern border with the United States. It was a land and air operation, involving more than ten helicopters. To suppress cartel reprisals, the military deployed in the two adjoining border muncipios of Reynosa and Rio Bravo. Early reports said X-20 was actually caught in Rio Bravo, whereas later reports said in Reynosa. (See Mexican Army Captures X-20, the Ruthless Gulf Cartel Leader).

Sandwiched in between these two high-level captures, however, there was the shocking release of Rafael Caro Quintero, a 1980's-era Mexican drug baron. This individual had been convicted, in 1989, for the 1985 murder of American DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent Enrique Camarena, in Mexico. Caro Quintero was released on August 9th, 2013 to the shock and amazement of many on both sides of the border. (See The Unbelievable and Appalling Release of a Mexican Drug Boss).

The three-judge appeals court that ordered Caro Quintero's release ruled on the grounds that he was not tried under the proper jurisdiction. The argument was that, since Camarena did not technically occupy a diplomatic post, Caro Quintero should have been tried for the murder under state, and not federal, jurisdiction. So the prisoner was released on August 9th.

A few days later, on August 14th, 2013, the Mexican government announced a new provisional arrest warrant for Rafael Caro Quintero, with the option of extraditing him to the United States and thereby getting him out of the country. The Mexican Attorney General, though, pointed out that Caro Quintero couldn't be extradited for the Camarena murder because he'd already been tried for that crime in Mexico. But given Caro Quintero's long rap sheet, it couldn't have been hard to find evidence of at least one other crime he's committed.

In my aforementioned August 19th article on the Caro Quintero case, I wrote: "On the other hand, I don't think that Caro Quintero is just sitting around waiting to be extradited, either. If they plan to capture him, they might consider doing it very soon, if they can."

Well, I don't think that was very difficult to figure out. And sure enough, Caro Quintero's location is now unknown. Well, not unknown to Caro Quintero, of course, but unknown to any authorities who wish to imprison or extradite him.

On September 10th, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam and Mariana Benitez, Assistant Attorney General for International Affairs, visited Washington, D.C. And both criticized the court's decision to release Caro Quintero.

According to Benitez, the Mexican Attorney General's office wasn't even aware of the release until nine hours after Caro Quintero had been turned loose. In fact, she said, the Attorney General's office learned about the release from the media, as did the general public.

Attorney General Murillo Karam called the release decision "absurd and illogical."

Attorney General Murillo Karam also said that the court violated proper release procedures, which require a 10-day wait to investigate the possibility of outstanding charges lodged against a prisoner whose release has been approved.

But what if there really was a jurisdiction problem? Even in that case, Murillo said that what the court should have done was simply to refer the case to a state level judge, rather than just releasing Caro Quintero.

As for the current situation, Murillo Karam said that Caro Quintero's whereabouts are unknown to the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General has a special team working on the Caro Quintero case, with a goal of arresting Caro Quintero. However, the Mexican Attorney General stated the obvious by saying "... we don't know where [Caro Quintero] is at this moment. If we knew where he was, we'd have him in custody."

Unsurprisingly, Caro Quintero appears to have flown the coop.


Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years. His website is located at

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