Mexican drug lord on FBI’s Most Wanted list among dozens busted out of prison near border

Mexico Drug Lord Capture
FILE – This image released by the FBI shows the wanted poster for Rafael Caro-Quintero, who was behind the killing of a U.S. DEA agent in 1985. Caro-Quintero has been captured by Mexican forces nearly a decade after walking out of a Mexican prison and returning to drug trafficking, an official with Mexico’s navy confirmed Friday, July 15, 2022. (FBI via AP, File) AP

Mexican drug lord on FBI’s Most Wanted list among dozens busted out of prison near border

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AUSTIN, Texas — A notorious Mexican drug cartel leader on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List was one of more than two dozen inmates busted out of a prison close to the U.S. border earlier this week.

Rafael Caro-Quintero, 70, escaped from a Mexican prison early Sunday when armed men in armored vehicles opened fire from outside the facility during a New Year’s Day visitation hour.


The incident, which left 17 people dead, including 10 prison guards, is one of the deadliest in modern times.

Chihuahua state officials determined Sunday that the escapees belonged to one of Juarez’s most dangerous criminal organizations, the Mexicles gang, which is associated with the Caborca Cartel led by Caro-Quintero.

Caro-Quintero is the leader of the Mexicles, which has connections to the Sinaloa Cartel. He has been heavily involved in drug smuggling for more than 40 years and formerly led the Carborca Cartel until last July, when he was captured by Mexican authorities.

Caro-Quintero sits on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and was still listed online as “captured” Tuesday morning. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

The drug lord ordered the kidnapping and murders of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a pilot, American writer, and dentistry student in 1985. The murders were called in by Mexican politicians in the southern state of Guadalajara, where Caro-Quintero is from.

He fled after the murders to Costa Rica but was eventually arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison in Mexico, but served 28 years before being released in 2013 after a judge overturned his conviction on the basis that he was tried improperly.

The ordeal complicated diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mexico. Amid pressure from the Obama administration, a Mexican federal court issued a warrant for Caro-Quintero days later. He was added to Interpol’s top 15 most-wanted list.


The U.S. offered its highest value reward of $20 million for information that led to his arrest. Caro-Quintero was arrested by Mexican authorities in July 2022 in a deadly ordeal that left 14 people dead.

Conditions inside the prison in Juarez revealed that some inmates lived in 10 “VIP” cells inside the facility, according to Mexico Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval. Authorities found methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin inside the prison, as well as bulk cash and weapons.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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