FBI Ten Most Wanted: Rafael Caro-Quintero Wiki

Rafael Caro-Quintero, a.k.a. Rafa or “Narco of Narcos,” is on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He is wanted for alleged violent crimes, fraud, kidnapping, murder, and a series of other offences.

The United States Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a monetary reward of up to $20.0 million for information that could lead to his capture, arrest, and conviction. This is among the highest rewards on record for a criminal’s capture. Officials are warning that Caro-Quintero should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

About Rafael Caro Quintero
Known AsRafa
Age68 Years
BirthOctober 3, 1952 Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico
Weight159 to 170 pounds
SpouseMaria Elizabeth Elenes Lerma
SiblingsMiguel Caro Quintero
ParentsEmilio Caro Payán, Hermelinda Quintero
Wanted forKidnapping and murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in 1985
Reward$20 million
Contact FBI1-800-CALL-FBI

Who Is Rafael Caro-Quintero?

Wanted fugitive Rafael Caro-Quintero is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is known to be active in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico. He also has ties to activities in Guadalajara, Jaliso, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

He is 6’0” and Mexican, with brown eyes, gray hair (formerly black).

It is estimated that Caro-Quintero was born sometime in the early 1950s. According to a Spanish publication, he was born on October 3, 1952 in La Noria Badiraguato, Sinaloa. However, U.S. reports are unsure of this, as he has used multiple birth dates.

His parents were Emilio Caro Payan and Hermelinda Quintero.

He does not have an extensive educational background—he studied up until his first year of primary school, but left to work, planting corn, wheat, and beans.

Rafael Caro-Quintero was formerly married to María Elizabeth Elenes Lerma. He now has a common-law wife named Diana Espinoza Salazar. The couple met in prison.

The U.S. Treasury considers Salazar to be a key accomplice in his movements. She reportedly holds some of his assets under her name. However, her known assets were frozen, preventing Americans from making transactions with the pair.

Diana Espinoza Salazar


Also known as Altagracia Espinoza Aguilar, Salazar is reportedly known among drug traffickers to the U.S. Treasury.

She was arrested in 2008 with her then-husband for drug trafficking in Colombia, and was also charged with money laundering. It was while serving time in Puente Grande state prison that she met Caro-Quintero.

Among his relatives, it is reported that Caro-Quintero has several children: Héctor Rafael Caro Elenes, Roxana Elizabeth Caro Elenes, Henoch Emilio Caro Elenes, and Mario Yibran Caro Elenes. He also has a daughter-in-law named Denisse Buenrostro Villa.

Some of these family members are reported to have acted on his behalf.

Caro Quintero Organization


Offences and Motive

Caro-Quintero is wanted for his alleged involvement in the 1985 abduction, torture, and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Enrique Camarena Salazar.

This crime was allegedly committed in retaliation for a raid on Caro-Quintero’s marijuana farm the year before.

This was not the first time he was accused of murder. Earlier that year, he was accused of abducting, torturing, and murdering two American men whom officials say he mistook for U.S. undercover agents. The men were writer John Clay Walker and dentistry student Alberto Radelat.

Also see: FBI Ten Most Wanted: Jason Derek Brown

Caro-Quintero is also wanted for his alleged involvement in an active key leadership position in the Sinaloa Cartel and the Caro-Quintero Drug Trafficking Organization within Badiraguato.

The fugitive was arrested in Costa Rica on April 4, 1985.

He served 28 years of a 40-year sentence in a Mexico prison, and was released on August 9, 2016 on a controversial technicality. The technicality involved the Mexican court ruling that Caro-Quintero should have been tried at state level, not federal.

But his involvement goes beyond Mexico’s borders; he is also facing charges in the United States for drug trafficking (cocaine, heroine, marijuana and methamphetamine).

Rafael Caro-Quintero Mexican Drug mafia

Rafael Caro-Quintero (Photo: FBI)

When Caro-Quintero was released early from his sentence, he went right back into the drug trade, supporting the urgency for his recapture.

History of Gang Involvement

Caro-Quintero was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel, alongside Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. The Guadalajara Cartel is one of the five most famous drug cartels of all time. It prospered significantly from the cocaine trade that began in Colombia.

The cartel later split into three other powerful groups: the Sinoloa Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, and Juárez Cartel.

FBI Search

According to the FBI, Rafael Caro-Quintero is wanted under the following official charges:

  • Violent crimes in aid of racketeering
  • Conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering
  • Conspiracy to kidnap a federal agent
  • Kidnapping of a federal agent
  • Felony murder of a federal agent
  • Aiding and abetting
  • Accessory after the fact

Click here for the Rafael Caro-Quintero wanted poster.

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich is asking for the public’s help in finding the fugitive, calling him “violent” and “a menace to society.”

Caro-Quintero is believed to still be in Mexico.

As a reward, the U.S. Department of Sate’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering up to $20.0 million for information leading to the fugitive’s arrest.