“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:

“By PETER BAKER and RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

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.”

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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

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

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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 frees drug lord Caro Quintero after 28 years in prison for killing of U.S. agent”

August 12, 2013

The Washington Post on August 9, 2013 released the following:

“By Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero walked free Friday after 28 years in prison when a court overturned his 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, a brutal murder that marked a low point in U.S.-Mexico relations.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday it was extremely disappointed by the release of the man convicted in the killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, calling it “deeply troubling.”

Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said in a statement that he was “worried” about the court’s decision, adding that his office is analyzing whether there are any charges pending against Caro Quintero.

Caro Quintero, 60, was a founding member of one of Mexico’s earliest and biggest drug cartels. The court ruled Wednesday that he had been improperly tried in a federal court for a crime that should have been treated as a state offense. Prison officials were notified of the ruling on Thursday, and an official at the Jalisco state prosecutors’ office said the drug lord left prison before dawn on Friday. The official was not authorized to speak on the record.

News media were not alerted until hours after the release, and U.S. authorities apparently received no prior notification.

“The Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration learned today that early this morning Rafael Caro Quintero was released from prison,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.

The DEA, meanwhile, said it “will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Caro-Quintero faces charges in the United States for the crimes he committed. “

Caro Quintero still faces charges in the United States, but Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said it was unclear whether there was a current extradition request.

Apparently, the U.S. had requested his extradition for the Camarena killing — something Caro Quintero can’t be tried twice for — but may not have filed extradition requests for pending U.S. drug charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it “has continued to make clear to Mexican authorities the continued interest of the United States in securing Caro Quintero’s extradition so that he might face justice in the United States. “

Caro Quintero helped establish a powerful cartel based in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa that later split into some of Mexico’s largest cartels, including the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

He is still listed as one of the DEA’s five top international fugitives, and U.S. authorities believe he continued to control the laundering of drug money from behind bars.

“Caro Quintero continues to launder the proceeds from narcotics trafficking and he maintains an alliance with drug trafficking organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel, most notably with Esparragoza Moreno’s network,” said Treasury Department spokesman John Sullivan, referring to Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, also known as “El Azul,” or “Blue” because of the dark color of his skin, who is allegedly a top leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

In June, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against 18 people and 15 companies that allegedly moved money for Caro Quintero.

“Caro Quintero has used a network of family members and front persons to invest his fortune into ostensibly legitimate companies and real estate projects in the city of Guadalajara” said Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Caro Quintero has spent almost his entire sentence at a prison on the outskirts of that city, Mexico’s second-largest city.

Mexico’s relations with Washington were badly damaged when Caro Quintero ordered Camarena kidnapped, tortured and killed, purportedly because he was angry about a raid on a 220-acre (89-hectare) marijuana plantation in central Mexico named “Rancho Bufalo” — Buffalo Ranch — that was seized by Mexican authorities at Camarena’s insistence.

Camarena was kidnapped on Feb. 7, 1985, in Guadalajara, a major drug trafficking center. His body and that of his Mexican pilot, both showing signs of torture, were found a month later, buried in shallow graves.

American officials accused their Mexican counterparts of letting Camarena’s killers get away. Caro Quintero was eventually hunted down in Costa Rica.

At one point, U.S. Customs agents almost blocked the U.S. border with Mexico, slowing incoming traffic to a standstill while conducting searches of all Mexicans trying to enter the United States.

Camarena’s fellow DEA agents considered him a hero in the war against drug trafficking and the El Paso Intelligence Center, where U.S. federal agencies collect information about Mexican drug barons, is dedicated to him.

Times have changed since the low point, and cooperation has strengthened, but Caro Quintero’s release Friday reopened old wounds.

Edward Heath, the former DEA regional director for Mexico at the time of the Camarena killing who was present during the identification of the agent’s body from dental records, said the release reflected a broader lack of cooperation with the U.S. from the new Mexican government, a contrast to the policy of former President Felipe Calderon.

“You had a president that was working very close with our government in a quiet way. These people come in and so, boom, the curtain comes down,” said Heath, now a private security consultant. “It means a disrespect for our government.”

He said he was skeptical of the explanation that there was a justifiable legal rationale for Caro Quintero’s release.

“There’s some collusion going on,” he said. “This guy is a major trafficker. This guy is bad, a mean son of a gun.”

Caro Quintero is said to have pioneered links between Colombian cocaine cartels and the Mexican smugglers who transport their drugs into the United States.

The ruling left many wondering why it took so many years for judges to determine Caro Quintero was tried in the wrong court.

“They were always ‘political’ prisoners serving sentences for as long as the U.S. kept up the pressure,” said a former DEA official who once worked in Mexico. He is not authorized to talk about the case because he still does work in Mexico.

“The bribe money to get them out was always there. Mexican ‘justice’ is always built on very weak foundations. And they seem to like it that way. Sad,” he added.

Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, said the ruling may portend more such procedural rulings following the January freeing of French citizen Florence Cassez, who was convicted in Mexico for being part of a kidnapping ring.

The Frenchwoman served seven years of a 60-year sentence before Mexico’s Supreme Court voted 3-2 to release her in January because of procedural and rights violations during her arrest, including police staging a recreation of her capture for the media.

“What appears to be coming is an avalanche of judicial appeals, with the drug traffickers hiring very good, very expensive lawyers, arguing there were violations of due process,” said Benitez. “The government is going to have problems.”

Mexican courts and prosecutors have long tolerated illicit evidence such as forced confessions and have frequently based cases on questionable testimony or hearsay. Such practices have been banned by recent judicial reforms, but past cases — including those against high-level drug traffickers — are often rife with such legal violations.

“The government has to be prepared to keep an eye on judges so that they don’t fall into the easy argument of due process,” Benitez said, “because there may also be judges who are receiving money” to accept such arguments.”

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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.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email: