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Mexico Releases Drug Kingpin

  • VOA News

Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero behind bars, undated file photo.

Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero behind bars, undated file photo.

A Mexican drug kingpin convicted of murdering an American government agent has been freed on a technicality after serving 28 years of a 40-year sentence for kidnapping, torturing and killing the man in 1985.

A Mexican court unexpectedly overturned the conviction of Rafael Caro Quintero, ruling that he should have been tried in a state court rather than a federal court for killing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique Camarena. Caro Quintero was released in the early morning hours Friday, without advance notice to U.S. authorities or news media.

The DEA said the Mexican court's actions were deeply troubling, and pledged to "vigorously" seek Quintero's extradition to the United States to face criminal charges pending against him there.

The office of Mexico's attorney general also said it disagrees with the ruling in Jalisco state, and said it was considering whether further legal action is possible.

The brutal circumstances of the American DEA agent's death strained U.S.-Mexico relations at the time, with U.S. officials contending their Mexican counterparts allowed Camarena's killers to escape punishment.

Caro Quintero, who eventually was captured in Costa Rica, was a founding member of one of Mexico's earliest and biggest drug cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.