MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned an appeals court ruling that freed drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero from prison, a decision that had enraged American officials who placed a bounty for his recapture.
Caro Quintero left a maximum-security prison in August because the appeals court overturned his 40-year sentence for the 1985 torture killing of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena and a Mexican government pilot.
The appeals court annulled Caro Quintero's sentence on procedural grounds, saying he should have been tried in a state court instead of federal court because Camarena was not registered as a diplomat, which would have made it a federal crime. Simple homicides are state crimes.
Prosecutors appealed that ruling, and a panel of five Supreme Court justices voted 4-1 to overturn the release, ruling that Camarena was a registered U.S. government agent and thus covered by the federal law.
“In his character as a DEA agent, he was an internationally protected person, given that he had been officially recognized by Mexico and the United States as an intergovernmental agent,” the court said in a statement.
A U.S. official who attended the court session but who was not authorized to be quoted by name said his government was “satisfied” by the Supreme Court ruling, calling it “the correct decision.”
Caro Quintero, 61, would be returned to prison to serve out his sentence under the ruling, but the two governments have not been able to find him since he walked free.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.