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Drug lord Caro Quintero asks Mexico not to give in to U.S. extradition requests

Published On: Dec 03 2013 08:45:21 PM CST

The undated file photo distributed by the Mexican government shows Rafael Caro Quintero, considered the grandfather of Mexican drug trafficking. A Mexican court has ordered the release of Caro Quintero after 28 years in prison for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, a brutal murder that marked a low-point in U.S.-Mexico relations. (AP Photo/File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero sent a letter to the Mexican government asking officials not to give in to the United States' demand for his capture and extradition to try him for the 1985 killing of a U.S. federal agent.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed on Tuesday that he received the letter, which was also addressed to President Enrique Pena Nieto and the Interior Ministry. He said excerpts that appeared in the investigative magazine Proceso were correct, but would not elaborate further on its contents.

"It's not fair, gentlemen, that the Mexican justice system is subject to the plans the United States has for a Mexican man who only wants peace and relief for himself and his family," the letter reads.

A Mexican appeals court in August overturned Caro Quintero's 40-year sentence for the torture-murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena and a Mexican government pilot. The panel argued a state court should have overseen the case, not a federal one, and ordered his immediate release from a maximum-security prison. He walked free Aug. 9, a release that angered the U.S. government and surprised Mexican prosecutors, who weren't notified until hours after it took place.

Mexico's Supreme Court annulled the order in November, saying Camarena was a registered U.S. government agent and therefore his killing was a federal crime. An arrest warrant was issued for Caro Quintero, who has been in hiding since his release.

The U.S. State Department has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Caro Quintero's arrest. An indictment out of a California federal court charges him with kidnapping, murder and other crimes related to drug trafficking and Camarena's slaying.

Proceso said it received the letter from Caro Quintero's legal representatives, but it did not identify them.

Attorney General Murillo Karam said, "I received the letter like it appears there. It's correct ... as you can see, the letter deals with a matter that will be resolved in court."

In the message, Caro Quintero, the 61-year-old founding member of one of Mexico's earliest and biggest drug cartels, says he already spent more than 28 years in prison and paid for his crimes. He complains that the United States will try him again for the same crimes for which he partially served a sentence in a penitentiary in the western city of Guadalajara.

Officials in the attorney general's office were not available to comment on whether extradition for the same crimes would be possible. A Mexican law prohibits extradition on charges already tried in Mexico.

The Supreme Court's ruling means Caro Quintero would be returned to prison to serve out his remaining years. But Washington has formally requested that he be detained for extradition.

"The justice the United States seeks for your fellow Mexican was already paid in Mexico," the letter says. "It is trying to justify an extradition that is tinged with revenge."

Story by Adriana Gomez Licon

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