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The Sonora Cartel, also called the Caro-Quintero Organisation, was a Mexicomarker based criminal cartel. Upon of the cartel's disintegration, its leaders were incorporated into the Tijuana Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel.


The Sonora Cartel was considered by the United Statesmarker Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to be one of the oldest and best-established cartels. The cartel′s roots are in the Guadalajara Cartel, which dissolved after the 1989 arrest of its co-founder, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo.

Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel's brother, is in jail for his role in the killing of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camerena in 1985. The Sonora cartel had direct links to Colombian drug cartels and operated routes into Californiamarker, Arizonamarker, Texasmarker and Nevadamarker.

The Sonora cartel was headed by Miguel Caro Quintero and operated out of Hermosillomarker, Agua Prietamarker, Guadalajaramarker and Culiacánmarker, as well as the Mexican states of San Luis Potosimarker, Sinaloamarker and Sonoramarker.

The Sonora Cartel was lead by Miguel Caro-Quintero, brother to Guadalajara Cartel co-founder, Rafael Caro-Quintero, who was arrested in Costa Ricamarker in 1985 in connection with the torture and death of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Salazar. Miguel Caro-Quintero would eventually be arrested in 1989, however it is believed he still maintains control over the organization from behind bars.


The Sonora Cartel is believed to be one of the earliest cartels to begin shipping cocaine from Colombiamarker, particularly from the Cali Cartel. The cartel was involved in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana primarily, however secondary functions include the transportation and distribution of methamphetamine.

Operating out of northern central Mexico, the cartel was believed to smuggle drugs into Arizonamarker, Texasmarker and Californiamarker, from a network of ranches along the northern border region where the drugs are stored prior to shipment. The Sonora Cartel has been specifically linked to operating out of Hermosillomarker, Agua Prietamarker, Guadalajaramarker, Culiacánmarker, San Luis Potosimarker, Durangomarker, Sinaloamarker and Sonoramarker.

Miguel Caro-Quintero

Miguel Caro-Quintero was born in Caborca, Sonoramarker, Mexico, in 1963. Previously arrested in 1992 on charges of tax evasion, he was found not guilty, which the DEA attributes to the use of threats and bribes by Caro-Quintero. While imprisoned, it is believed Caro-Quintero was still running the Sonora Cartel, where he is purging a prison sentence for racketeering, drug smuggling and money laundering. Caro-Quintero was arrested in December 2001 in Los Mochismarker, Sinaloa. Prior to his arrest he repeatedly stated he is innocent of the charges and has accused the DEA of pursuing a vendetta against him for his brother, Rafael Caro-Quintero's, alleged role in the death of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Miguel Caro-Quintero is noted as having called into a radio station to profess his innocence, stating: "If I had a cartel, I'd have a lot of money and my brother wouldn't be there (in jail)" and claiming to be an innocent rancher. He further stated he does not believe his brother was involved in the killing of the DEA agent.

Rafael Caro-Quintero

Rafael Caro-Quintero is the co-founder, with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, of the Guadalajara Cartel and Sonora Cartel. He was arrested in Costa Ricamarker on April 4, 1985 for the kidnapping, torture and murder of federal agent Enrique Camarena Salazar, and was also charged with violent crimes in aid of racketeering, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine, murder, continuing criminal enterprise.

See also


  1. 'Wanted' poster.

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