Mexico’s navy has held a ceremony to honor 14 marines who died when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in the north of the country.
(AP).- President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the marines had been supporting the operation in which drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was captured on Friday.
The navy said that the crash had been an accident and that its cause was still being investigated.
Only one of those aboard the Black Hawk helicopter survived the crash.
President López Obrador said it had come down shortly before landing in Los Mochis – in northern Sinaloa state – “after fulfilling its mission of lending support to those carrying out the arrest warrant for Rafael Caro Quintero”.
Quintero – who was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list – was one of the co-founders in the late 1970s of the now-defunct Guadalajara drug cartel.
Dubbed “Narco of Narcos”, he was convicted in 1985 of ordering the torture and murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, an agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration who had infiltrated the Guadalajara cartel.
But in 2013, an appeals court ruled he had been tried under the wrong jurisdiction and freed him after serving 28 years of his 40-year sentence.
A new arrest warrant was issued less than a week later but Rafael Caro Quintero had already gone into hiding.
The navy said the drug lord was tracked down by a bloodhound called Max, a female dog normally used for search and rescue missions following natural disasters.
Max sniffed out 69-year-old Quintero hiding in some bushes near the town of Choix.
US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar praised Mexico’s navy for hunting down the drug lord and said it had been a purely Mexican operation without US involvement.
The US justice department also thanked Mexico’s navy and said it would seek Rafael Caro Quintero’s extradition.