By Jennie Taer
Mexican authorities captured and arrested the drug lord allegedly responsible for the infamous killing of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena on Friday, the DEA announced.
Rafael Caro-Quintero, the previous leader of the Guadalajara cartel, was allegedly responsible for the kidnapping and killing of Camarena in 1985, and his name was subsequently placed on the FBI’s most wanted list with a reward of up to $20 million, according to the FBI. (RELATED: Man Allegedly Built Massive Drug Ring In Tennessee Prison With Cartel Supplied Fentanyl: REPORT)
“Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena embodied the very best of DEA: he was a tenacious agent who relentlessly pursued the most dangerous drug cartels operating in Mexico. He fearlessly pursued the most violent and the most dangerous traffickers and put our mission—protecting the safety and health of the American people—above all else. Kiki is a hero,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.
Camarena was assigned to the DEA’s Guadalajara, Mexico, office when he was kidnapped by five assailants, one of whom was a Mexican law enforcement officer, and killed, according to the DEA. He disappeared while heading to meet his wife for lunch never to be seen alive again.
During the kidnapping, Camarena is believed to have endured two days of severe torture, according to the DEA. He died from a crushed skull and six men were subsequently arrested for his death.
The Mexican Navy captured Caro-Quintero when a search dog found him hiding in the brush in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, according to The Associated Press.
“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement. We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro-Quintero,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Friday.
“Today’s arrest is the culmination of tireless work by DEA and their Mexican partners to bring Caro-Quintero to justice for his alleged crimes, including the torture and execution of DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena. We will be seeking his immediate extradition to the United States so he can be tried for these crimes in the very justice system Special Agent Camarena died defending,” Garland added.
During Friday’s operation, a Blackhawk helicopter crashed, killing 14 people onboard, according to The Associated Press. Mexican authorities extradited Caro-Quintero and he will be held in a maximum security prison in Mexico.
Caro-Quintero was previously released from custody in 2013 after a court overturned his 40-year sentence he was serving for his connection to Camarena’s murder.