Rafael Caro Quintero is a Mexican drug lord who co-founded the now defunct Guadalajara Cartel and was arrested in Mexico on July 15, 2021. 

Born into the community of La Noria, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, he was the oldest son of twelve children. Quintero started his criminal life after he began growing marijuana at a farm owned by his brother. Shortly after that, thanks to the success of his marijuana business, he bought other farms around the area and started garnering influence.

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In the late 1970s, he allegedly worked with drug traffickers before forming the cartel that later became infamous for the torture of the American Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena and the writer John Clay Walker, amongst many others. 

The Guadalajara Cartel was formed by Quintero and his partners Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno and a few others and quickly became the prime suppliers of cocaine in the United States, thanks to an extensive drug shipment system that they had created. According to sources, the reason the Guadalajara cartel did so well was because the police in Mexico had become thoroughly corrupt, so much so that they had a hand in the dealings of the criminal organisation. 

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However, despite his ability to run drugs back and forth the coast of Mexico and the US, Quintero was captured and convicted in 1985 for his brutal murder of DEA agent Camarena. After his arrest and his incarceration, Quintero’s cartel fell apart, with many of the leaders going on to form their own cartels and criminal organisations. 

Following his conviction, the drug lord was sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence in a high security prison in Mexico. During the course of his sentence, he was shifted to different prisons numerous times. In 2013, he was found to have been wrongfully convicted as his crimes, such as they were, were tried in a state court, and not a federal court. He was released soon after.

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The American government made a petition to the Mexican government requesting his extradition to the US, without much success as the drug lord continued to evade arrest and was subsequently put on the Interpol’s most wanted list, with a reward for $20 million for information that may lead to his capture.