Monday, October 21, 2013

Sen. McCain demands answers on release of former Guadalajara Cartel boss who murdered U.S. DEA agent

The senator may be distressed when someone explains to him how Mexican criminal justice works

Guadalajara -
It's been more than two months since a federal appellate court in Jalisco state ordered the midnight release of Rafael Caro Quintero, the 60 year old former boss of the long defunct Guadalajara Cartel who, according to law enforcement officials, was once worth a half billion dollars.

Caro Quintero was convicted of several murders, including that of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar at a cartel safe house in Guadalajara in February 1985. He spent 28 years in prison, but a panel of Mexican judges eventually sided with the arguments of well heeled criminal defense attorneys and ordered his immediate release, finding that his murder prosecution should have been brought in state rather than federal court.The death house on Lope de Vega.

The amparo (equivalent of a U.S. habeas corpus) order generated a huge public outcry, especially north of the border. Mexico quickly announced it would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Judicial Court, and it has in fact done so. But the second proceeding may be all for naught. The lower court's order of release was faxed to the prison facility where Caro Quintero was being held at 11:53 p.m. on a Thursday evening, and directed turnkeys to open the jailhouse doors. The silver haired former narco boss exited the high security Jalisco state prison 90 minutes later, at 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 9. He left with nothing but a small bundle of clothing, walking a kilometer up a dark and rain slick road to the nearest highway, where unidentified persons waited for him in a car. No one has seen him since.

All of the above has Arizona's senior Republican senator John McCain upset, and he's demanded answers from U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and U.S. attorney general Eric Holder by Nov. 14.

In letters to both men, McCain expressed his "deep concern" over Caro Quintero's release, and asked for details on what the Obama administration plans to do to help Mexico recapture and retry him in a court of proper jurisdiction.

He was once Mexico's largest exporter of marijuana, and delivered Colombian cocaine as a sideline

"Quintero ordered and participated in the kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA agent Camarena. His early release from prison was a grave injustice," McCain wrote. He asked for a report on progress the Peña Nieto administration has made towards locating the former Guadalajara boss, which most likely is none.

"If Mexico fails to arrest and retry Caro Quintero, what does the U.S. Dept. of Justice plan to do?," McCain queried Kerry.

Quintero's attorneys insist he is immune from further prosecution for the two murders, both here and in the U.S., because of double jeopardy principles. They vow to fight any attempt to rearrest him with yet another amparo proceeding. But Justice has filed an application with Mexico's Foreign Ministry, seeking his immediate detention while U.S. criminal charges and an extradition request are prepared. Mexico says it will honor the American request while it proceeds with its own belated appeal. There is not the slightest indication that anybody in either country knows where Caro Quintero is, however.

The former drug lord was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of Camarena and narcotics trafficking charges. If he is brought to trial again in a Mexican state court - highly unlikely - he would receive full credit for the 28 years he spent in federal custody.

Dec. 3 - Caro Quintero writes Enrique Peña Nieto, asking for protection from U.S. "vengeance"
Nov. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court orders Guadalajara Cartel drug lord back to prison
Nov. 5 - State Dept. puts $5 million bounty on DEA agent killer
Dec. 16 - Interpol asks for help in locating Rafael Caro Quintero

Aug. 19 - PRI admin distances itself from Caro Quintero release
Aug. 23 - "Absurd and illogical," Mexico's A.G. calls court ruling which freed narco executioner

Jan. 13 - No justice for Mexicans in Florence Cassez ruling
Apr. 19 - Mexican Supreme Court orders Canadian released, once again on legal technicalities
Aug. 15 - Sen. Patrick Leahy blocks $95M in Mérida Initiative funds
Oct. 25 - U.S. DEA gets its wings clipped in Mexico

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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