A fugitive facing federal charges in Los Angeles for allegedly ordering the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA special agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Rafael Caro-Quintero was charged in July 1992 with violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to kidnap a federal agent, kidnapping of a federal agent, felony murder of a federal agent, aiding and abetting, and being an accessory after the fact. He and more than a dozen co-defendants were named in the Los Angeles case.
Additional charges against Caro-Quintero were unsealed Thursday in New York, alleging his role as the person responsible for Camarena’s murder. The indictment also details his alleged leadership role in trafficking methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the United States.
“Together with our federal partners at the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of State, we are committed to bring to justice this dangerous criminal and cartel leader responsible for the brutal murder of a DEA agent,” said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich.
“Special Agent Camarena was devoted to stopping drug trafficking and breaking the cycle of drug-related crime. He showed tremendous courage to pursue the most violent drug traffickers, and it is because of his courage, and his selflessness, that we’re not going to stop looking for Caro-Quintero until we find him and put him back behind bars where he belongs,” Bowdich said.
Camarena — a former U.S. Marine, firefighter and police officer — was snatched on Feb. 7, 1985, in broad daylight in Guadalajara, Mexico, while walking along a street to meet his wife for lunch. The Guadalajara cartel blamed the undercover agent for the takedown of a 2,500-acre marijuana plantation owned by Caro-Quintero.
The direct orders for the kidnapping allegedly came from Caro-Quintero. Camarena was surrounded by five armed men who threw him into a car, then sped away. It is believed that the father of three died within two to three days of his kidnapping, but his body was not found until a month later.
Caro-Quintero was arrested by Mexican authorities after the murder but was released from prison in 2013 on a legal technicality. Both Mexican and U.S. officials are seeking his arrest.
The U.S. Department of State is offering a reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the fugitive’s arrest and/or conviction. Anyone with information concerning Caro-Quintero should take no action themselves, but should immediately contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list was established in March 1950. Since then, 484 fugitives have been apprehended or located — 162 of them as a result of citizen cooperation, according to the agency.