US State Department To Post $5 Million Reward For Mexican Cartel Killer

By Lorne Matalon
November 04, 2013

The U.S. State Department will announce a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of former Mexican cartel boss Rafael Caro Quintero.

He was convicted in the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena but released by a Mexican federal judge this summer on what appears to be a technicality.

It was a crime that temporarily ruptured relations between the U.S. and Mexico, and one that still marks a turning point in what was an already complicated bilateral relationship.

Then-President Ronald Reagan ordered painstakingly slow checks of all cars and trucks entering the country at the the border until Mexico arrested Caro Quintero.

Caro Quintero was convicted of torturing and killing Camarena after the agent's work caused millions of dollars in losses to Mexico's dominant cartel at the time.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to explore options to extradite Caro Quintero. He detailed the torture and murder Caro Quintero was convicted of in 1989 by a Mexican court.

Despite an outstanding extradition request, Mexico did not inform the U.S. that he was about to be released.

A U.S. law enforcement officer with direct knowledge of the case has told the Fronteras Desk that the United States remains committed to recapturing Caro Quintero. The source says that not to pursue him would insult the memory of a brave agent.

The murder also divided the DEA and the CIA at the time. After speculation within the ranks of law enforcement, former DEA agents have charged that CIA operatives were in on the murder.

They claim they're going public with their allegations because it has taken them until now to corroborate their suspicions.

From the El Paso Times interview with with former DEA Agents Phil Jordan and Hector Berrellez:

"Informants in Mexico who were eyewitnesses identified two of the CIA operatives from a photo lineup that were present during Camarena's 1985 torture session, which lasted longer than a day."

In June, the U.S. Department of the Treasury invoked the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to freeze the financial assets of 15 businesses allegedly bankrolled by Caro Quintero, as well as those of several of his relatives and associates including his wife, four children, and daughter-in-law.