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Press Release

Former Cartel Leader Extradited from Mexico

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON - Miguel Caro Quintero, the alleged former leader of the now-defunct Sonora Cartel, was extradited by the government of Mexico to the United States on Feb. 25, 2009, the Justice Department announced today.

Miguel Caro Quintero arrived in the United States yesterday and has been transferred to the District of Colorado to face charges including racketeering and narcotics trafficking. Miguel Caro Quintero made his initial appearance this afternoon in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Charges are also pending against Miguel Caro Quintero in the District of Arizona. Prior to his extradition, Miguel Caro Quintero was serving a prison sentence in Mexico for drug-related crimes.

The Sonora Cartel, a former drug trafficking organization based in Mexico, was responsible for exporting to the United States and distributing multi-ton quantities of marijuana during the 1980s and 1990s. Caro Quintero and his older brother, Rafael Caro Quintero, were identified as significant foreign narcotics traffickers under The Kingpin Act in June 2000, subjecting them and their associates to economic sanctions. Rafael Caro Quintero was accused of being the mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena in 1985 and was prosecuted by the government of Mexico.

"The extradition of former kingpin Miguel Caro Quintero who reigned with impunity for too long is a victory for citizens of both the United States and Mexico," said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "After serving time in a Mexican prison, Caro Quintero will now answer for his crimes with the one consequence kingpins fear most: extradition to the United States. DEA will continue to work with our courageous Mexican counterparts in our relentless pursuit to bring the highest level drug traffickers to justice."

The District of Colorado case is being prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Colorado. The charges in the District of Arizona are being prosecuted by attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition of Miguel Caro Quintero.

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-174