A top lieutenant for notorious Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero has been extradited to Brooklyn and locked up on narcotics conspiracy charges.
Ismael Quintero Arellanes was arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court, accused of serving as Caro Quintero’s bodyguard and right-hand man.
Caro Quintero, who at one point topped the FBI’s list of most wanted fugitives for orchestrating the death of a federal agent in 1985, was arrested in Mexico last year and awaits extradition.
His drug operation was a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel, which was run by infamous drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera until his arrest and 2019 conviction after a blockbuster Brooklyn trial.
Quintero Arellanes is described in court filings as a “high-ranking lieutenant” in Caro Quintero’s organization, and the head of security.
He was responsible for keeping his boss one step ahead of Mexican authorities, making calls and sending messages on his behalf so officials couldn’t track the drug lord’s location, prosecutors said.
He also played a key role in trafficking large amounts of drugs and armed himself with guns. In one intercepted communication, Quintero Arellanes wrote he was “purchasing two firearms that were like the ‘cop killers’ and that one could fit 30 bullets in each magazine,” federal prosecutors wrote in a Wednesday court filing.
Caro Quintero was arrested and convicted in Mexico in 1985 on charges connected to four murders, including the 1985 kidnapping and killing of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.
He still ran his drug operation through family members and associates, prosecutors said, and a Mexican state court ordered his release in 2013, to the “extreme disappointment” of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Caro Quintero went on the run days later after a Mexican federal court issued a warrant for his re-arrest.
Quintero Arellanes, who also goes by the nickname “Fierro” and is Caro Quintero’s nephew, labored to keep his uncle free, prosecutors said.
In February 2015, he directed another member of their drug operation to warn Caro Quintero the military was planning a raid, and that June, another member of their group warned Quintero Arellanes that they had to move the kingpin and keep information about his location a secret, prosecutors allege.
Mexican officials finally caught up with Caro Quintero in a dramatic capture last July.
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace on Wednesday described Caro Quintero as “an infamous drug lord whose violent organization has for decades sent thousands of kilograms of drugs to the United States.”
Arellanes, 48, was captured in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico on Jan. 29, 2020, after a grand jury in Brooklyn returned an indictment against him in the summer of 2018.
He was ordered held without bail after a hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday.
His extradition to Brooklyn comes less than two weeks after a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s former top cop, of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel.
Garcia Luna used his sway over law enforcement to help drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, then his cousin, El Chapo, who took over the cartel in a bloody civil war in the late 2000s.
Source: Animal Político