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U.S. asks Mexico to extradite Drug Lord for trial

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has asked Mexico to detain and extradite recently-freed drug kingpin and cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero to face charges spanning almost 30 years.

Rafael Caro Quintero at Puente Grande prison in Guadalajara, Mexico [1]Reuters reports [2] that Quintero is wanted by the U.S. for ordering the murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) undercover agent Enrique Camarena in 1985.

This is a shocking release, given that Mexico is fiercely fighting a prolonged drug war against the cartels. The new Mexican government has put at least one general [3] in charge of local anti-drug efforts in order to reverse gains made by the cartels in recent  years. But, this comes as the government captured a top cartel leader in Miguel Angel Trevino [4].

Camarena was brutally interrogated and tortured before being killed, and the U.S. charges would mean Quintero would face additional prison time. He had already served almost 30 years for Camarena’s murder in a 40-year sentence.

This could be tricky because Mexico prevents extradition of Mexican citizens to other countries if there is a threat of a death sentence or life sentence, which are the most likely options for Quintero’s ordered murder of the DEA agent Camarena.

Plus, Quintero has gone into hiding after his release, which adds insult to injury to the U.S.’s extradition plea. Quintero is a legend among the cartels, having headed a major cartel in Mexico.