Rafael Caro Quintero, a suspected Mexican drug lord, was arrested on July 15 for allegedly arranging the 1985 murder of Kiki Camarena, a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intelligence officer. According to the BBC, Rafael Caro Quintero, 69, was a founding member of the Guadalajara cartel, which controlled the illegal drug trade along the US border with Mexico for decades until its recent downturn.
Rafael Caro Quintero was arrested for the 1985 death of Enrique Camerena, who was investigating cartel operations. Quintero was released in 2013 when a Mexican court reduced his 40-year sentence by 12 years. Although the verdict was eventually overturned by the Mexican Supreme Court, it was too late, as Quintero had already become a fugitive and apparently restarted his drug trade while in hiding.
SEMAR video of Rafael Caro Quintero being taken into custody today by Mexican marines. pic.twitter.com/NjLslt6MJM
— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) July 15, 2022
Rafael Caro Quintero’s Drug-Dealing Career
Rafael Caro Quintero was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, to peasant parents. He, 14, took several menial jobs after his father died in 1964 to support his family. According to CNN Mexico, Quintero apparently started growing and trading marijuana as a youngster. Within five years, his fortune would have skyrocketed, making him a recognized figure in Mexico’s underground.
Quintero is said to have co-founded the Guadalajara cartel with his criminal colleagues in the late 1970s after gaining sufficient authority among drug dealers. According to the Los Angeles Times, the group was a “pioneer” in the Mexican drug trade, with a size and complexity not seen before. Quintero was wanted by US authorities not only for alleged drug trafficking, but also for the deaths of at least three US citizens.
According to El Economista, Quintero was accused of ordering his subordinates to capture and torture two Americans who accidentally walked into a cartel party in Guadalajara in January 1985. Authorities in the United States believe Quintero mistook them for undercover DEA agents. The two Americans, author John Clay Walker and dentistry student Albert Radelat, were kidnapped and tortured for a long time. Radelat was believed to have been buried alive.
Rafael Caro Quintero now faces extradition to the United States. Although Quintero’s power in the drug trade has declined, authorities say the arrest is important because it shows that offenders will face repercussions no matter what. Quintero’s arrest was the result of the high-profile murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a problem for the cartel in the 1980s. Camarena, like Walker and Radelat, is said to have been tortured and interrogated for a long time.