MEXICO – A process to extradite drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero to the United States for murdering a DEA agent in 1985 has been launched after he was captured by Mexican forces last weekend.
According to a Mexican federal official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, the notification was made on Saturday.
In 1985, DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was tortured and killed by Caro Quintero, who was wanted in the United States for the crime. Currently, he is being held in a high-security prison 50 miles (80 km) west of the capital.
Among the FBI’s most sought fugitives, Caro Quintero was released from a Mexican prison on a technicality in 2013 after nearly three decades in custody for murdering Camarena and a Mexican pilot.
A notification on Saturday marked the start of the legal process to extradite him to the United States. In a statement Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he would seek “immediate extradition.”
To request extradition, the US government must submit a formal request and provide evidence within 60 days. Whether or not the case proceeds will be determined by the judge handling the case.
The extradition process is likely to be delayed during this period as Caro Quintero’s lawyer files appeals.
Most extradition processes take a long time, although their speed is greatly dependent on the countries’ political will.
During a joint operation by the Mexican Navy and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Caro Quintero, 69, was captured in the mountains of Sinaloa. During the operation, 14 marines died when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed. Investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the incident.
A founding member of the Guadalajara Cartel, the drug trafficker supplied heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the DEA.
In 1984, he accused Camarena of raiding a marijuana plantation. As a result of Caro Quintero’s orders, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara in 1985. Months later, his tortured body was found. It was in 1985 that Caro Quintero was first captured in Costa Rica.