MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Obama administration said Sunday that it's working with Mexico to bring new charges against a drug lord who persuaded a court to overturn his 40-year sentence in the kidnap, torture and murder of a U.S. anti-drug agent.
The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security said drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero's release Friday was a test of Mexico's new president, who must see that Caro Quintero is put back behind bars.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the United States is deeply concerned by Caro Quintero's release and the United States is working with Mexican authorities to see that those responsible for the 1985 murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena face justice in the U.S.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Attorney General Eric Holder is in touch with Mexican authorities to convey U.S. concerns about Caro Quintero's release. The Mexican Attorney General's Office declined comment Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said the appeals court's decision to overturn Caro Quintero's sentence was "insulting."
McCaul told The Associated Press that Caro Quintero is "a cold-blooded killer and he's done 28 years." He added that "it's not a good sign for the new administration right now."
McCaul predicted a "negative impact" on U.S.-Mexico relations "if the Mexican attorney general doesn't pursue additional federal charges or help with extradition."
The three-judge court said in a Wednesday ruling that Caro Quintero should have been prosecuted in state not federal court, and overturned his sentence. He left prison Friday and has not been publicly or heard from since.
A defense lawyer said Saturday that he is optimistic that a second drug kingpin convicted in Camarena's slaying might also be freed.
Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler reported this story from Oak Bluffs, Mass, and Michael Weissenstein reported in Mexico City.
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mweissenstein