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How a dog helped the FBI catch America’s most wanted man

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One of Mexico’s most infamous drug lords, Rafael Caro Quintero, was finally apprehended in the town of San Simón this summer, and his arrest was down to the work of one very smart dog.

Max, a six-year-old bloodhound nearing the end of her career, used her expert sense of smell to track down Caro Quintero, 69, and lead a team of armed soldiers deep into the mountains of Sinaloa where one of America’s most wanted men was hiding. 

Max had worked for years as a specialised human tracking dog and clearly deserves all the treats for her stellar efforts. 

Rafael Caro Quintero was finally arrested this summer. Credit: Sky News
Rafael Caro Quintero was finally arrested this summer. Credit: Sky News

Caro Quintero, who was also known as ‘El Narco de Narcos’, was convicted in 1985 for his role in the torture and murder of Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, a US Drug Enforcement agent.

However, in 2013, Caro Quintero was released from Mexican prison, a move that sparked fury among US law enforcement, who wanted Caro Quintero to face justice stateside. 

The FBI placed Caro Quintero on its top 10 most wanted list in 2018, offering a $20 million reward for information leading to his arrest. 

In footage released shortly after Caro Quintero’s capture in July, he was seen being dragged from bushland looking dishevelled.

Caro Quintero was flown to Altiplano maximum security prison, and last month Mexico received an extradition request from the US, according to MailOnline.  

Hailing from La Noria, Sinaloa, Caro Quintero is best known for being one of the co-founders of the Guadalajara cartel, which trafficked cocaine, heroin and marijuana from Mexico to the US in the 70s and 80s.

Max used her expert sense of smell to track down Caro Quintero. Credit: SEMAR
Max used her expert sense of smell to track down Caro Quintero. Credit: SEMAR

Caro Quintero targeted Camarena because he blamed him for a raid on a marijuana plantation in 1984, and although he was meant to serve 40 years behind bars, only ended up spending 28.

Mexican prosecutors and US authorities alike were outraged when a court ruling freed Caro Quintero, and by the time the supreme court had reversed the decision, Caro Quintero had gone into hiding.

Speaking after Caro Quintero’s capture in July, Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations, said: “It is probably one of the most important captures of the last decade in terms of importance to the DEA.”

Stressing the importance of the two countries working together to secure Caro Quintero’s arrest, Mexican security expert Alejandro Hope added: “This type of capture is unthinkable without the participation of the DEA.”

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