“MX” for Borderland Beat
|Rafael Caro Quintero|
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charged Bryant Espinoza Aguilar, the stepson of the former Guadalajara Cartel leader and fugitive Rafael Caro Quintero, of violating the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). The complaint was unsealed yesterday and charges Espinoza Aguilar — a U.S. citizen — of assisting Caro Quintero and his common law wife by putting assets under his own name.
The complaint states that Espinoza Aguilar transferred property owned by his mother into his own name and bribed a Mexican public official to change the name of the property in a public registry document to protect it from being seized. The property in question was a luxury home located in Jardines del Pedregal, an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City.
In 2000, the U.S. government sanctioned Caro Quintero under the Kingpin Act and named him a specially designated narcotics trafficker. Espinoza Aguilar’s mother Diane was sanctioned under the Kingpin Act in 2016 for providing material and financial assistance to Caro Quintero’s network. The Kingpin Act prohibits U.S. citizens like Espinoza Aguilar from conducting business activities with sanctioned individuals and companies.
“As alleged, the defendant acted as a straw man to protect property purchased with the illicit, blood-stained proceeds of his stepfather’s drug trafficking empire from being seized by the government,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue.
According to the U.S. government, between January 1980 and January 2017, Caro Quintero led a continuing criminal enterprise that smuggled massive amounts of illegal narcotics from Mexico and elsewhere into the U.S. In addition, it conspired to murder people who posed a threat to the criminal organization. The murder conspiracy includes the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in February 1985.
“On February 7, 1985, DEA was forever changed when Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Guadalajara, Mexico,” said DEA Acting Administrator Shea. “We will never forget his sacrifice and remain steadfast in our pursuit of the man responsible for his death, Rafael Caro Quintero, and those that continue to protect and enable his criminal activities. Let today’s action be a clear message to Caro Quintero, his family, and his criminal associates — we will stop at nothing in our pursuit for justice for Camarena.”
In 2013, he was freed from a Mexican state jail on a legal technicality after he was tried in a federal tribunal for a state crime. An arrest warrant was issued by federal authorities a few months after his release. If Caro Quintero is ever arrested in Mexico, officials say he will likely be extradited to the U.S.
In the U.S., he is wanted for kidnapping and murder of a U.S. federal officer, as well as drug trafficking, money laundering and for leading a continuous criminal enterprise. The U.S. government is offering a US$20 million bounty for his capture. This is the highest reward the U.S. offers for a Mexican criminal.