Mexico City November 7- Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned Wednesday a lower court decision to free drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, whose release shocked the US government, which offered a $5 million reward for his capture.,
Caro Quintero has vanished since walking out of prison on a legal technicality in August with 12 years to go on his 40 year sentence for the 1985 killing of a US anti narcotics agent.
The federal government, which was apparently caught off guard by the veteran drug trafficker’s release, had challenged the lower court decision, calling it an “absurd” ruling, and sought his rearrest.
US authorities, who were outraged by the release of the 61 year old founder of the now defunct Guadalajara drug cartel, are seeking his extradition.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration offered on Tuesday a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction, saying Caro Quintero faces murder, kidnapping and other criminal charges in California.
Caro Quintero was convicted in Mexico for the 1985 abduction, torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, whose Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala, was also killed.
The court in Guadalajara that freed Caro Quintero ruled that he should have been tried by state, not federal, court because he was not registered as a diplomat or consular officer in Mexico.
But the Supreme Court disagreed, saying that Camarena was an “internationally protected person” as a DEA agent.
“According to international treaties that Mexico is part of the federal judges, who sentenced him to 40 years in prison, were competent,” the top tribunal said.
Samuel Gonzalez, a former drug crime prosecutor, said the Supreme Court showed “that the absurd ruling by the judges in Guadalajara was a legal fraud, a trick that was fortunately overturned.”
But the authorities have found no trace of Caro Quintero since he was released from prison in the western state of Jalisco on August 9.
In announcing the bounty, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said Tuesday that Caro Quintero’s release was “shocking and disturbing to law enforcement professionals on both sides of the border.”
He said the US government would use every tool available to bring him to justice.
Camarena’s murder was considered a vendetta by the drug capos of Guadalajara for investigations by the DEA agent that led to the seizure of a massive marijuana field in the northern state of Chihuahua.
His killing caused great tension between the US and Mexican governments at the time, though the two countries have deepened their cooperation in the battle against drugs in recent years.