United States District Court Orders Forfeiture of Real Estate Purchased by Mexican Cartel Leader Rafael Caro Quintero with Proceeds of His Drug Trafficking Organization | USAO-EDNY

Today, in federal court in Brooklyn, United States District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano entered a Default Judgment and Partial Decree of Forfeiture authorizing the seizure and forfeiture of five pieces of real property located in and around Guadalajara, Mexico.  These properties, described in the civil forfeiture complaint filed on October 11, 2019, were purchased by Rafael Caro Quintero (“RCQ”) with drug proceeds generated by the Caro Quintero drug trafficking organization, a faction of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel. The United States will seek to enforce this Order through diplomatic channels. 

Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the District Court’s Forfeiture Order.

“Today’s order is another step forward in our relentless pursuit of justice for the victims of Caro Quintero’s brutal drug trafficking organization and especially for DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena, who was tragically murdered at the hands of Caro Quintero’s crime syndicate,” stated Acting United States Attorney Lesko.  “In forfeiting these drug-tainted properties, we join with the Mexican government and our law enforcement partners at the DEA to commemorate Special Agent Camarena’s life and remember his ultimate sacrifice.” Mr. Lesko extended his grateful appreciation to the DEA New York Division Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Strike Force, as well as the DEA Raleigh Resident Office and DEA Mexico City Country Office for their assistance with the case.  

“Rafael Caro Quintero is one of the world’s most wanted criminals for years of drug trafficking and his role in killing one of our own, DEA Special Agent Enrique Kiki Camarena,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan. “The unprecedented seizures and forfeitures announced today exemplify our resolve and perseverance in bringing RCQ to justice to face the consequences of his alleged crimes.  As we continue to safeguard the American public from drug trafficking and the dangers associated, we will never forget Special Agent Camarena’s courage and sacrifice.”

According to the forfeiture complaint, between January 1980 and March 2015, the Caro Quintero drug trafficking organization was involved in the transportation of multi-ton quantities of marijuana, multi-kilogram quantities of methamphetamine and multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine from Mexico to the United States.  As part of its investigation, law enforcement learned that Caro Quintero used proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics to purchase real estate in and around his home area of Guadalajara.  Caro Quintero allegedly placed the properties in the names of family members to conceal his ownership of the properties and use of illegal proceeds to purchase them, and to prevent Mexican authorities from seizing them.

Caro Quintero is a fugitive from several indictments in the United States and is on the FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted” criminals.  In April 2018, an indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Caro Quintero with leading a continuing criminal enterprise and other crimes, including his participation in the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.  A $20 million reward provided by the United States Department of State is being offered for information leading to his capture.  

The government’s forfeiture case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan G. King and Patricia E. Notopoulos.

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CV-5748 (ENV)


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