“U.S. Seeks Arrest of Mexican Kingpin Who Was Freed in American’s Murder”

August 15, 2013

The New York Times on August 14, 2013 released the following:


WASHINGTON — The United States has formally asked Mexico to re-arrest a drug kingpin who was released from prison in the middle of the night last week despite his conviction for masterminding the murder of an American drug agent nearly 30 years ago, officials from both governments said Wednesday.

The Justice Department sent Mexico a provisional arrest warrant for the drug lord, Rafael Caro Quintero, as a prelude to an extradition request. The officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the confidential collaboration, said Mexico’s attorney general privately encouraged the United States to send the request, a sign that the government there would act on it.

The case has stirred strong feelings among American law enforcement officials and become a fresh test of the relationship between the two neighboring countries at a time when they are trying to broaden it beyond the issues of crime, drugs and immigration. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to visit Mexico next month to talk about ways to expand economic ties, and both governments appear eager to avoid any enduring damage over the release of Mr. Caro Quintero.

Brian Fallon, a Justice Department spokesman, said that he could not comment on any arrest request but that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had personally involved himself in discussions. “The attorney general is in contact with top Mexican authorities to convey concerns about the release and figure out steps forward,” Mr. Fallon said.

The American authorities are also searching for other ways to go after Mr. Caro Quintero, who was convicted in the murder of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent known as Kiki, who was abducted, tortured and killed in 1985. The Treasury Department is examining whether it can squeeze Mr. Caro Quintero financially while the Justice Department prepares an Interpol arrest request.

Mexico’s attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, has expressed concern about the decision by a Mexican court to release Mr. Caro Quintero, who had served 28 years of a 40-year sentence, and said he would appeal the ruling to the country’s Supreme Court. He told United States authorities on Monday that they should file their arrest request, and lawyers worked overnight to draft it, according to an American official. A Mexican official said that Mr. Murillo Karam encouraged the American arrest request in case he was unsuccessful in reversing the ruling in a Mexican court.

Whether Mexican authorities can find Mr. Caro Quintero again remains an open question. When he was released from prison in Jalisco State at 2 a.m. Friday, security agents monitoring the facility decided to follow him, but they lost him, the Mexican official said. The official said security agents now have an idea about his whereabouts and are looking into that.

American and Mexican officials have said they were caught off guard by the court’s ruling, with legal experts saying that Mr. Caro Quintero’s lawyers outflanked prosecutors with a technical, but often successful, argument that the case was improperly prosecuted in federal court rather than state court.

Mexico’s foreign minister, José Antonio Meade, reiterated Mexico’s disagreement with the decision and said it would work to ensure “it is corrected,” but he sidestepped questions about whether the United States had filed an extradition request. Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment.

Mexican legal experts said Mr. Caro Quintero could not be extradited for Mr. Camarena’s killing because of a double jeopardy provision in the extradition treaty that bars turning anyone over on a charge that has been heard in trial. American lawyers could argue that the judge’s ruling effectively meant that he never was legitimately tried and that double jeopardy does not apply.

The United States could also seek his extradition on other crimes he is suspected of committing. The government has long maintained that Mr. Caro Quintero continued his ties to an extensive drug and money-laundering network even from prison, and in June the Treasury Department leveled sanctions against 18 people, including six members of his family, and 15 businesses or other entities tied to him.

If the United States found a crime for which Mr. Caro Quintero had not been prosecuted, it would have to fall within the statute of limitations in Mexico, and the United States would have to assure that he would not face the death penalty, a condition that Mexico has insisted on in the past because it does not have capital punishment, said José Antonio Caballero, a law professor at the university known as CIDE who has reviewed the Caro Quintero case.

Mr. Caro Quintero was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles in January 1988, accused of masterminding the killing of Mr. Camarena to protect his drug-trafficking organization, which was smuggling marijuana and cocaine into the United States.

In January 1989, Mr. Caro Quintero and another man were convicted in Mexico of killing Mr. Camarena and two other Americans, John Walker and Alberto Radelat, who were living in Mexico and whom his henchmen had mistaken for D.E.A. agents.

At the time, Mexico rarely extradited its citizens to face trial abroad, but under President Felipe Calderón, who forged close ties with the United States on fighting drug crime, extraditions of major cartel figures soared. During President Enrique Peña Nieto’s eight months in office, the pace has slowed considerably; the Justice Department has not released a tally.

American officials are worried that the second man convicted in the Camarena case, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, may also be freed under the legal tactic. If the federal court did not have jurisdiction in the killing, then Mr. Fonseca Carrillo’s conviction might also be moot.

Although Mr. Caro Quintero also faced state charges, the court decided he had already served time in prison commensurate with whatever sentence he might receive.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call


We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico here.


To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


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Mexico Captures Armando Villareal Heredia an Alleged US-born Tijuana Drug Lieutenant

July 12, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 11, 2011 released the following:

“By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal police have captured a U.S.-born drug lieutenant who joined the Tijuana cartel after a crackdown on the notorious Arellano Felix brothers caused the group to splinter and emerge with a younger leadership, officials said Monday.

Armando Villareal Heredia, 33, is a San Diego native accused of trafficking drugs from the northern state of Sinaloa into the United States, federal police said in a statement.

Villareal is also wanted by the U.S. on federal conspiracy and racketeering charges, according to a 2010 complaint that alleges murder, kidnapping and other crimes in both Mexico and California. Named in the most-wanted list of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s San Diego region, Villareal is among 43 defendants charged by the U.S. Attorney.

Mexican and U.S. authorities say Villareal takes orders from Fernando Sanchez Arellano, aka “The Engineer,” a drug kingpin who is the leader of a younger but weaker Tijuana cartel. Sanchez, who is in his 30s, is a nephew of the four Arellano Felix brothers who have been either killed or arrested since 2006.

In the complaint, U.S. officials say Sanchez’s criminal organization is an offshoot of the defunct Arellano Felix cartel, whose domination of Tijuana was fictionally portrayed in the Hollywood movie “Traffic.”

Federal police arrested Villareal on Saturday in the northern city of Hermosillo.

Justice Department spokeswoman Debra Hartman confirmed Villareal was a U.S. citizen. Hartman did not want to comment on Monday on a possible extradition request.

In the past, Mexican authorities have captured other drug cartel members born in the U.S. Last August Mexican authorities captured a Texas-born drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie.”

The arrest or death of the Tijuana cartel’s leadership in recent years sparked a bloody war of succession, but the strategy used to bring the gang down is being replicated in other violence-plagued regions.

More than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon began its offensive against organized crime in 2006, according to official figures. Some groups put the number at more than 40,000.

In other parts of Mexico, drug cartels are also splintering to form offshoots triggering violent confrontations.

On Monday, Mexican authorities blamed the Knights Templar, a gang that broke away from La Familia cartel, for the Friday killings of 11 people outside Mexico City.

The victims were shot with high-powered rifles and found piled near a water well on the outskirts of Mexico City.

The attorney general of Mexico state, home to suburbs that ring Mexico’s capital, said the victims were kidnapped two days earlier in a bar by members of the Knights Templar, according to the only survivor of the mass killing.

Attorney general Alfredo Castillo said the survivor told police only four of the 11 victims were members of the cult-like La Familia cartel and deemed as rivals of the Knights Templar.

Associated Press writer Gloria Perez in Toluca contributed to this story.”

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Colombian President Rejects U.S. Extradition Request

November 16, 2010

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected a U.S. request to extradite an alleged cocaine kingpin from Venezuela, saying Tuesday that the suspect will be sent back to face charges in his home country.

Walid Makled, 41, has claimed close ties with Venezuela’s socialist government and the U.S. State Department last year called him that country’s “largest drug trafficker.”

Makled was arrested August 19 in the border city of Cucuta, Colombia. Makled later alleged that he had made an indirect payoff to Venezuela’s justice minister in exchange for favors.

The Makled family at one time owned Venezuela’s Aeropostal airlines and a warehousing business at Puerto Cabello, the country’s main cargo port.

Police Gen. Oscar Naranjo had said in August that Makled’s syndicate smuggled more than 10 metric tons a month of drugs to the United States and Europe and that he would be extradited to New York City to stand trial.

Court papers supporting the U.S. indictment and unsealed on November 4 allege Makled – known as “The Turk,” or “The Arab” due to his Middle Eastern origin – controlled several airstrips in Venezuela that were used to fly U.S.-destined cocaine to Central America.

The papers allege he bribed Venezuelan police and national guardsmen to let him fly multiple-ton shipments from Venezuelan airports.

Santos told reporters on Tuesday that he was extraditing Makled to Venezuela because he had given his word to that country’s leftist president, Hugo Chavez. He said the extradition could take weeks or months.

Santos has called Chavez his “new best friend” and promised when he took office in August to restore frayed relations with Colombia’s neighbor – though as defense minister in the previous government he had accused Venezuela of harboring FARC rebel leaders.

Santos has made fortifying commerce between the two nations, which mostly benefits Colombian farmers, paramount in his administration. He told reporters Tuesday that Venezuela was in the process of repaying some $800 million owed to Colombian exporters.

The U.S. government, whose drug agents helped capture Makled, would not say whether it was disappointed by the decision in Colombia, which is the United States’ main ally in South America.

Makled has been wanted in Venezuela since November 2008, when authorities seized cocaine at a ranch he owned.

He is implicated in Venezuela in two killings, including that of journalist Orel Zambrano, a newspaper columnist who was slain in January 2009 by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

Venezuelan police have accused Makled of being behind the slaying. Zambrano had been covering drug cases in which the Makled family was accused of involvement.

Colombian authorities have said they believe Makled also had a role in the 2008 killing of Wilber Varela, one of its most-wanted traffickers. Varela was found shot to death in the Venezuelan city of Merida.

In a letter published in Venezuelan newspapers in March 2009, Makled denied involvement in Zambrano’s killing.

In the previous administration of President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia extradited 1,214 people, the vast majority to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking. Since Santos took office it has extradited 59, most of them also to the United States.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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