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Rafael Caro Quintero was considered the “Narco of Narcos.” The bloodthirsty drug lord thought he was untouchable, but he overstepped his bounds when he brutally murdered an American agent. Let out of jail on a technicality, the trafficker is still at large — and wanted by the FBI. Now, Caro Quintero is the central figure of season four of Netflix’s popular series Narcos. Here’s his true story.
Early Life And Finding The Guadalajara Cartel
Rafael Caro Quintero was born sometime in October 1952, in Sinaloa, Mexico. He has listed various birthdays spanning October to November or March of 1952.
Caro Quintero was one of 12 children and his father died when he was just 14-years-old. As the eldest son, the responsibility to support his mother and 11 siblings fell on Caro Quintero. After stints as a cattle rancher and working on corn and bean plantations, Caro Quintero realized that there was vastly more money to be made in a less traditional crop and began dabbling in growing marijuana under the guidance of a famously elusive Mexican drug lord Pedro Avilés Pérez.
Caro Quintero quickly amassed enough money to buy his own ranches entirely dedicated to producing the drug and soon had his entire family in on the business. His maternal uncles, his brother, and his wife’s family were all involved in the trafficking business.
Described by DEA agent James Kuykendall as “a true product of the Sinaloa drug traffic and the personification of the Sinaloa drug trafficker,” by the time he was 29-years-old, Caro Quintero was a “rising star in the Mexican underworld.”
In the 1970s, Rafael Caro Quintero partnered with Mexican narcotrafficker Felix Galardo and Ecuadorian drug lord Ernesto Fonseca Carillo in a bloodthirsty triumvirate. They founded the Guadalajara Cartel, which would become a prototype for the drug organizations that still plague Mexico to this day.
Together, the three men were known as the Grandfather of Mexican Drug Trafficking, El Padrino or The Godfather, and Don Neto. Rafael Caro Quintero himself was described by FBI officials as “one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the United States” in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rafael Caro Quintero’s Downfall
In Netflix’s Narcos, Rafael Caro Quintero’s downfall begins when he starts to use cocaine himself and becomes increasingly paranoid and unpredictable.
In reality, Caro Quintero’s web began to unravel in November of 1984, when Mexican authorities raided his enormous “Buffalo Ranch” marijuana farm in Chihuahua which cost him an estimated $2.5 billion to $5 billion in street sales of the drug. The authorities had been tipped off by an undercover DEA agent and Caro Quintero, who was enraged at the loss, immediately began to plot his revenge.
First, in 1985 Caro Quintero with associates allegedly murdered two Americans, John Clay Walker and Alberto Radelat, who an increasingly paranoid Caro Quintero mistakenly thought to be DEA agents.