Nov 1, 2017

DEA: Fugitive Caro-Quintero tied to U.S. agent's murder is part of the "Chapo" Guzman drug cartel


DEA: Fugitive kingpin tied to U.S. agent's murder is part of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel;
Guerreros Unidos drug cartel pose a threat

Diana Washington Valdez
The Digie Zone Network

One of the drug-traffickers accused in the 1985 torture-murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena is a leader of the Mexican Sinaloa Drug Cartel, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration's 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment.

The recently released report is the first U.S. official indication that Caro-Quintera may have returned to drug-trafficking, this time in alliance with the Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera organization, after his release on an alleged technicality in 2013, and after serving 28 years of his 40-year sentence.

"Sinaloa Cartel leaders operating under the wing of Joaquin Guzman-Loera, Ismael Zambada-Garcia, and Rafael Caro-Quintero maintain cell heads in Phoenix, Arizona to oversee the distribution of illegal drugs in the region," according to the DEA report.

The Sinaloa Cartel smuggles drugs from Mexico across the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, the 2017 DEA report said.

Caro-Quintero's reemergence as a drug kingpin in Mexico is the result of political corruption, Phil Jordan, former director of the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center, said today in an interview. He provided additional details based on intelligence from his sources.

"Caro-Quintero and "Mayo" Zambada have the same DNA as "Chapo" Guzman," Jordan said. "The Caro Quintero family is in charge of the Sinaloa drug cartel."

"When I started my career with the DEA, the Caro Quinteros were prominent, and today they control (a major political party) in Mexico," Jordan said. "'Kiki' Camarena's murderers, assisted by corrupt U.S. intelligence operatives, are still alive and are multimillionaires."

DEA officials announced Oct. 27, 2017, the U.S. arraignment of Sajid Emilio "Cadete" Quintero-Navidad on. Oct. 11 in San Diego, on alleged drug-smuggling charges. 

"Quintero-Navidad is the cousin of fugitive Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero and the associate of high-ranking Mexican cartel leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, aka "Mayo" the DEA said in the Oct. 27 statement. "(Quintero-Natividad) is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leaders to be arrested in the United States."

Citing Chihuahua state official sources, the El Paso Times reported in a 2016 story "Drug Lord Reportedly Eyes Juarez Corridor," that Caro-Quintero was trying to take control of the Juarez, Mexico, drug-trafficking corridor.

Chihuahua officials speculated then (in 2016) that Caro-Quintero may have joined the Beltran-Leyva drug-trafficking organization, which used to be part of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel before the Beltra Leyvas broke away, to challenge the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

DEA officials said that Caro-Navidad's indictment was the result of a joint Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and DEA investigation, which had as its targets the leadership elements, lieutenants, associates, and money launderers connected with the Rafael Caro-Quintero drug-trafficking organization and the Beltran Leyva drug-trafficking organization. 

The DEA's statement of Oct. 27 did not make it clear whether Caro-Quintero was working with the Beltran-Leyva cartel or was on his own.

The 2017 DEA National Drug Threat Assessment report places Caro-Quintero squarely in the Sinaloa Drug Cartel's leadership, along with Ismael "Mayo" Zambada-Garcia. Both have eluded authorities.

Guzman-Loera, who was captured in 2016 and extradited to the United States, is awaiting trial on drug-trafficking charges in New York. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Hector Bellerrez, a former DEA official who investigated the Camarena murder for the U.S. government, previously said that Guzman-Loera worked for the Guadalajara Drug Cartel when the U.S. agent was kidnapped in Guadalajara, Mexico, and later found dead.

The Mexican government tried Caro-Quintero and two other top drug cartel leaders, Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca-Carrillo and Miguel Felix-Gallardo, for the crime, and a Mexican court sentenced them each to 40 years in prison. Caro-Quintero appealed and was released.

After the drug-trafficking trio was imprisoned, the Guadalajara Drug Cartel created a loose federation of trafficking organizations that included the Juarez Drug Cartel, led at first by former federal commander Rafael Aguilar-Guajardo, and later by the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was believed to be related to Fonseca-Carrillo.

Bellerez and Jordan said Mexican authorities should not have released Caro-Quintero, 65, and warned that he would reenter the smuggling enterprise.

Caro-Quintero said in a 2016 interview with Proceso, Mexico's investigative reporting magazine, that he was no longer involved in drug-trafficking and was not at war with Guzman-Loera. His interview was posted on YouTube @ Caro-Quintero .

In response to pressure from the U.S. government, Mexican officials said they sought to rearrest Caro-Quintero but had not been able to find him.

Jordan said that Camarena was killed in part because he discovered a large and profitable marijuana ranch "El Bufalo" in the state of Chihuahua that belonged to Caro-Quintero. Authorities raided the property in 1984 and destroyed the marijuana.

Other findings

DEA Report

In other findings, the DEA reported that Mexican drug cartels are networking with Asian transnational criminal organizations, and that a suspected Chinese organized crime group based in Mexico City and with cells in New York and California, is helping Mexican drug-traffickers to launder money from the proceeds of drug smuggling.

"Several Mexican TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) are increasingly utilizing a Chinese money laundering organization based in Mexico City to move drug proceeds," according to the report.


Omar Garcia Velasquez (courtesy photo)
The report also mentions the relatively new cartel known as the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), which were linked in the international press to the disappearance of 43 teaching college students in 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero. La Jornada BBC report

Investigations in Mexico implicated law enforcement officers, politicians and drug-traffickers in the disappearance of the students that were never found.

Families of the victims have taken their plight to international arenas, while the fate of the young people remains a mystery. The number "43" - for the students that are missing - has become the symbol of their cry for justice.

"(Los Guerreros Unidos) drug trafficking influence currently encompasses several municipalities within the Mexican tristate area of Guerrero, Mexico, and Morelos," the DEA report said. The DEA said the Guerreros Unidos is among the Mexican drug cartels that supply street gangs in Chicago with illicit drugs.

Omar Garcia Velásquez, a survivor of the 2014 Iguala incident, appeared Nov. 3 in a performance with musician Ruben Sosa at Cafe Mayapan in El Paso, Texas. The event was a benefit for the cause. 


He said in a BBC 2016 interview that one of his fellow students, who is among the disappeared, called Garcia on his cell phone and told him that police were shooting at the group.

Garcia was at the teaching college, Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa, when he received the call. In the interview with the BBC in London, he alleged that he and others later also came under a shooting attack when they went to take pictures and survey the crime scene.

The students, 90 of them, had divided into two groups, and planned to take over two buses so they could drive to join a protest in Mexico City. BBC 2016


n other findings, the DEA reported that Mexican drug cartels are networking with Asian transnational criminal organizations, and that a suspected Chinese organized crime group based in Mexico City and with cells in New York and California, is helping Mexican drug-traffickers to launder money from the proceeds of drug smuggling.

"Several Mexican TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) are increasingly utilizing a Chinese money laundering organization based in Mexico City to move drug proceeds," according to the report.

(End)

Author-journalist Diana Washington Valdez has reported on drug-trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border for more than 20 years.