Mexico Continues Hunt for Veteran Drug Lord Caro Quintero

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Mexico authorities continue their hunt for veteran drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, alleging the man known as the “narco of narcos” is linked to drug trafficking and resurgent violence in the state of Sinaloa.

Officials in Mexico’s Defense ministry (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) say their intelligence shows that Caro Quintero’s relatives remain active in the trafficking of marijuana, opium gum and methamphetamine in the area between Badriguato, state of Sinaloa, and Tamazula, in the state of Durango, reported Zeta magazine. The officials say the former head of the long-defunct Guadalajara Cartel who spent some 30 years in prison is running those illegal operations.

This region was considered the domain of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel who was most recently arrested in early 2016. El Chapo is now awaiting extradition to the US in a jail close the border.

Since April, there has been an increase in murders in the Sinaloa cities of Culiacan, Mazatlan and Navolato. The uptick in violence has been attributed to the loosening of El Chapo’s control over the region. Police have said groups of armed men have been patrolling the streets of the state capital, Culiacan, Tijuana-based Zeta reported.

Caro Quintero is considered by many to be the godfather of drug trafficking in Mexico. He was one of the nation’s most powerful drug traffickers before going to prison in 1989 for drug trafficking and for the abduction, torture, and murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Caro Quintero was released in 2013 on a technicality. Officials promptly called for his recapture, and the United States offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

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The search for Caro Quintero was previously overshadowed by the summer 2015 escape, for the second time, of El Chapo. But it appears that Mexico’s military has refocused its efforts on recapturing the veteran drug trafficker. On The Navy launched an operation in several communities in the area on June 13 aimed at finding Caro Quintero. Zeta reported that some residents were beaten and harassed in the operation.

InSight Crime Analysis

Security officials accuse Caro Quintero as reintegrating himself into the drug trade and taking over illegal activity in territory once dominated by El Chapo.

Caro Quintero recently resurfaced to deny these allegations in a secretly recorded interview with Mexico’s Proceso magazine. He denied having problems with anyone except the authorities, whom he offered an apology for past offenses. He claimed that El Chapo was his friend, and that he had nothing to do with Camarena’s 1985 murder.

Despite his claims to have left the illegal life behind, capturing Caro Quintero will continue to be a priority for both Mexican and US officials, whether he is back in violent business or not.

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