US law-enforcement officials are seething after Mexico released drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero from prison, and they vowed to continue efforts to bring to justice the man who ordered the killing of a DEA agent. Caro Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of agent Enrique Camarena, but a Mexican federal court ordered his release this week after 28 years. The judge said he had been improperly tried in a federal court for state crimes. The 60-year-old walked out of a prison in the western state of Jalisco yesterday.
The DEA said it "will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Caro Quintero faces charges in the United States for the crimes he committed." Caro Quintero was a founding member of one of Mexico's earliest and biggest drug cartels. He helped establish a powerful cartel based in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa that later split into some of Mexico's largest cartels, including the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels. But he wasn't tried for drug trafficking, a federal crime in Mexico. Instead, Mexican federal prosecutors, under intense pressure from the United States, hastily put together a case against him for Camarena's kidnapping and killing, both state crimes. Caro Quintero reportedly ordered the hit because he was angry about a raid on a marijuana plantation.