The mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador justified Wednesday the ruling that in 2013 released the kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero placeholder image, one of the drug traffickers most wanted by US authorities, despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico later ruled that it was a mistake.
The kingpin is at the top of the DEA’s Most Wanted list, and a reward of $ 20 million for his capture.
On Wednesday, López Obrador said that the legal recourse that led to the release of Caro Quintero was “justified” because no sentence had allegedly been handed down against the kingpin after 27 years behind bars. The president also mentioned a subsequent arrest warrant as an example of the pressure exerted by the United States.
“Once he leaves, to look for him again because the United States demands that he should not have been released, but the legal protection proceeded,” said López Obrador.
Jesús Ramírez, spokesman for the presidency, said that López Obrador “only pointed out that it is a legal aberration that the judge has not handed down a sentence to Mr. Caro Quintero 27 years later … but he did not defend his release.
There was a verdict, but an appeals court in Mexico initially decided that it had been handed down by the wrong judge.
In August 2013, the Appeals court overturned the 40-year sentence Caro Quintero in prison for the murder of Camarena and a Mexican government pilot. The panel alleged that a state court should have heard the case, and not a federal one, and ordered his immediate release from a maximum security prison.
Months later, the Supreme Court of Mexico annulled the order that released him, stating that Camarena was an agent of the US government and, therefore, his murder constituted a federal crime, adding that he had been properly prosecuted. A arrest warrant against Caro Quintero, who has been in hiding since his release.
His release, carried out overnight, upset the US government and surprised Mexican prosecutors, who were notified hours after it was carried out.
Since his release, Caro Quintero has allegedly formed alliances with other drug cartels, and has established operations in the northern state of Sonora, apparently to take territory from the children of ‘El Chapo’ and the Sinaloa cartel.
He spent 29 years in a Mexican jail, but was able to resume his illicit activities because He never lost his old connections in the underworld Ray Donovan, director of the DEA’s New York office, said in a previous interview with Univision Noticias.
Forty years ago, Caro Quintero specialized in the trafficking of marijuana, but now he also moves cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl. “It’s like a traditional poster,” Donovan explained.
In 2016, three years after his release, drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero He said in an interview that he wanted to live his old age in peace, away from organized crime and accusations that he ordered the murder of DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena in 1985.
This is not the first time that López Obrador has been involved in controversy over decisions or expressions about drug lords. Since the beginning of his administration, he has publicly stated that the Mexican government is no longer interested in stopping drug lords.
In 2019, López Obrador ordered the release of Ovidio Guzman, son of drug trafficker Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, to avoid bloodshed.