US extradition process begins for Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero

Captured drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero has been told the process to extradite him from Mexico to the US is underway.

judge based in Mexico City told Caro Quintero, who is wanted in the US for the torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena in 1985, of the accusations against him via video-link on Saturday.

Caro Quintero is being held in a high-security prison 50 miles west of the capital.

He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives after being released from a Mexican jail on a technicality in 2013 after being jailed for nearly 30 years for the murder of Mr Camarena and a Mexican pilot.


Emergency personnel work next to a navy Blackhawk helicopter which crashed after supporting those who conducted the capture of drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, near Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, Mexico (Guillermo Juarez/AP)

On Friday, US attorney general Merrick Garland said “immediate extradition” would be sought.

The US government has 60 days to file a formal request and provide evidence to support it.

The judge handling the case will then determine whether or not it proceeds.

Caro Quintero’s lawyers are likely to file appeals to try to delay the process, which tends to be lengthy, though its speed depends heavily on the political will of the countries involved.

Caro Quintero, 69, was caught on Friday in the mountains of his home state of Sinaloa in a joint operation by the Mexican Navy and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

Some 14 marines involved in the operation died when the Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed.

The drug trafficker was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel and, according to the DEA, one of the main suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the US in the 1970s and 1980s.

He blamed Mr Camarena for a raid on a marijuana plantation in 1984.

In 1985, Mr Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on Caro Quintero’s orders.

His tortured body was found a month later.

Caro Quintero was first captured in Costa Rica in 1985.

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