United States Wants Mexico To Rearrest Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero Who Was Freed From Jail Last Week

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Rafael Caro QuinteroRafael Caro Quintero

The United States wants Mexico to rearrest a drug lord who was freed from prison last week after serving nearly 30 years of a 40-year sentence for kidnapping and murdering a DEA agent.

Rafael Caro Quintero was released from jail despite his conviction for the kidnapping and killing of an American drug agent Enrique Camarena in 1985.

The Atlantic Wire reports that the United States said on Saturday that it was "extremely disappointed" with Mexico's decision to free Quintero, which was based on a judge's finding that the drug kingpin was tried in a federal court for what was a state crime.

The U.S. Justice Department sent Mexico a provisional arrest warrant for Quintero as a prelude to an extradition request, according to The New York Times. 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.

Extradition, however, might prove to be complicated. There is a double jeopardy provision in the extradition treaty that would prevent the United States filing a request in the killing of Camarena, so the request would have to pertain to other charges. Based on a Supreme Court decision in Mexico barring the extradition of Mexicans to countries where they would face the death penalty or life imprisonment, those charges might also face further limitations.

The United States could also seek his extradition on other crimes he is suspected of committing. The government has long maintained that Quintero continued his ties to an extensive drug and money-laundering network even from prison, and two months ago the Treasury Department leveled sanctions against 18 people, including six members of his family and 15 businesses or other entities tied to him.

The United States also believes that Quintera is still active in the drug trade in Mexico, even when he was in prison.

Sources: The Atlantic Wire, The New York Times