The United States offered 20 million dollars for the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero, wanted for the assassination of an American anti-drug agent. But 14 soldiers died in a helicopter accident, on the sidelines of the operation.
The DEA, the United States Department of Drug Enforcement offered 20 million dollars, the highest reward to get their hands on Rafael Caro Quintero. Friday afternoon, the Mexican Navy confirmed having arrested the powerful drug trafficker nicknamed the “Narco of Narcos”, in the village of Choix in northern Sinaloa. His arrest nevertheless led to the death of 14 soldiers in a helicopter crash. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said they died “after fulfilling their mission to support those who carried out the arrest order issued against Rafael Caro Quintero” and announced the opening of an investigation to determine “the causes of the fall of the helicopter” which was about to land.
Rafael Caro Quintero had been wanted by the Mexican and American authorities since 2013. This year a judge had invoked a procedural error and ordered his release on the spot, twelve years before the end of his prison sentence. This decision was overturned by the Mexican Supreme Court a few months later, but the criminal had already disappeared.
In 1985, Rafael Caro Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Enrique Camarena, an undercover DEA agent in Mexico. After his release, the fugitive became the number one target of the US anti-drug department.
One of the three strongmen of the Guadalajara Cartel
The 69-year-old man is the co-founder of the Guadalajara Cartel, which later became the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful in Mexico. This cartel led by Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo completely controlled the transport of drugs, especially cocaine, from Colombia to the United States during the 1980s. At the time Gallardo was nicknamed the “chief of chiefs”. Arrested in 1989, he is serving a 76-year prison sentence in a high-security prison in Guadalajara (Jalisco). The other strongman of this cartel, Ernesto Fonseca Carillo, alias “Don Neto”, was also arrested in 1985. Now 91, he is serving the rest of his sentence at home on parole. The three men are from the town of Badiraguato in the state of Sinaloa. After the Guadalajara Cartel broke up, drug trafficking was shared between different cartels, which then went to war with each other.
Leader of the Caborca Cartel
Upon his release from prison in 2013, Rafael Caro Quintero resumed his activities, without however having the same power as in the 1980s. His area of influence was refocused around Caborca, in northern Mexico. The criminal is suspected of leading the “Caborca cartel”. This small town in the Sonoran desert is a strategic point for various traffics, about a hundred kilometers from the American border. Strategic territory and therefore disputed by several criminal groups. In February, residents of the town suffered a night of horror punctuated by shootings and kidnappings. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a group calling itself “The Sons of the Chapo”. This cartel is led by the sons of the famous drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo”, former leader of the Sinaloa cartel. Through these two cartels, Guzman and Quintero, past allies compete for control of territory.
Today, Joaquin Guzman is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. An extradition to an American prison could also be the fate reserved for Rafael Caro Quintero.