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Press Release

Leader of Guadalajara and Sinaloa Cartels Charged with Conspiring to Murder a DEA Agent as Part of Continuing Criminal Enterprise

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Rafael Caro Quintero is added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List

Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Rafael Caro Quintero with leading a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related crimes through his leadership of the Caro Quintero drug trafficking organization, a faction of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.  The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury the Eastern District of New York on January 20, 2017, and relates to Caro Quintero’s criminal activities from January 1980 to January 2017.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, announced the indictment.

The DEA and Federal Bureau of Investigation also announced today that the FBI has added Caro Quintero to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and that a $20 million reward provided by the United States Department of State is being offered for information leading to his capture.

“As alleged in the indictment, Caro Quintero is drug kingpin responsible for a murder conspiracy targeting those who posed a threat to his drug trafficking organization, including DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena who bravely worked to stop traffickers like the defendant from flooding our country with dangerous narcotics,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The passage of time will not stop us from holding Caro Quintero accountable for the murder of one of one of our law enforcement partners.”  Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the DEA Offices in Long Island and Mexico City, the United States Department of State, the Homeland Security Investigations Office in Tucson, Arizona,

“Caro Quintero’s stronghold in the Sinaloa Cartel has lasted for over thirty years, following the kidnapping and brutal murder of Special Agent Camarena,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt.  “DEA will never forget.  This indictment is a result of tremendous collaboration amongst law enforcement to bring Caro Quintero to justice and sends a message to the Cartel that time makes no difference in our efforts to stop their drug trafficking and related violence.”  

According to the indictment, between January 1980 and January 2017, Caro Quintero led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and conspiring to murder persons who posed a threat to his narcotics enterprise.  The murder conspiracy includes Caro Quintero’s kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in February 1985.

Caro Quintero is also charged with participating in an international heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine distribution conspiracy from February 2015 through January 2017 and an international marijuana distribution conspiracy from January 1980 through January 2017, as well as using firearms in relation to his drug trafficking enterprise.  The millions of dollars generated from these drug sales were then transported back to Mexico. 

As the leader of the criminal enterprise, Caro Quintero employed numerous individuals, each of whom played a  role to ensure the success of the organization, including “sicarios” or hit men who carried out acts of violence in Mexico such as murder and kidnappings to silence potential witnesses and retaliate against anyone who provided information to law enforcement; security personnel for the leadership of the enterprise; “plaza bosses” who controlled the enterprise’ territories; transporters of narcotics and money launderers.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Gina M. Parlovecchio, Michael P. Robotti, Andrew C. Gilman and G. Karthik Srinivasan are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age:  63
Country of Origin: Mexico

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-208(S-2)


John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated April 12, 2018

Drug Trafficking