MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday defended the 2013 ruling that freed one of America’s most wanted drug lords, though Mexico’s Supreme Court subsequently judged this to be an error.
Rafael Caro Quintero was released while serving a 40-year sentence for the torture and murder of US anti-drug administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985, and has since resumed his career. role of violent drug dealer.
Caro Quintero tops the DEA’s Most Wanted list, with a $ 20 million reward for his capture.
López Obrador said on Wednesday that the legal appeal that led to Caro Quintero’s release was “justified” because no verdict had been reached against the drug lord after 27 years in prison. American pressure.
“Once he was out they had to look for him again, because the United States demanded that he should not have been released, but the appeal was legally justified,” López Obrador said.
Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez said that “the president was simply saying that it was a legal aberration that the judge did not deliver a verdict on Mr Caro Quintero after 27 years … but he was not defending his release . “
There was a verdict – but a Mexican appeals court initially ruled it came from the wrong judge.
In August 2013, the appeals court overturned Caro Quintero’s 40-year sentence for the murder of Camarena and a Mexican government pilot. The panel argued that a state court should have overseen the case, not a federal case, and ordered his immediate release from a maximum security prison.
The Mexican Supreme Court overturned the order releasing him months later, saying Camarena was a registered US government agent and his murder was therefore a federal crime and had been duly tried. An arrest warrant has been issued for Caro Quintero, who has been in hiding since his release.
His late release angered the US government and surprised Mexican prosecutors, who were not notified until hours after his execution.
The issue is thorny for López Obrador, who has publicly stated that the Mexican government is no longer interested in detaining drug lords. In 2019, López Obrador ordered the release of Ovidio Guzman, a son of jailed drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, to prevent bloodshed.
Even though the president was misinformed as to why Caro Quintero was released in 2013, more than five years before he took office, it seems to illustrate just how the case – or the drug lord’s search – apparently for the Mexican government, although while it remains a top priority for the United States.
Since his release, Caro Quintero has reportedly formed alliances with other cartels and set up an operation in the northern state of Sonora, known to wrest the territory from Guzman’s sons and the Sinaloa cartel.