PRECEDE San Jose, Costa Rica
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican drug baron Rafael Caro Quintero was returned to Mexico City under armed guard Friday night from Costa Rica to face questioning about the murder of an American narcotics agent.
At least 40 plainclothes policemen, armed with shotguns and automatic rifles, were stationed along the runway as a Mexican government jet landed with Caro Quintero and four men captured with him in Costa Rica.
Journalists were kept 500 yards from the government hangar at the international airport as the business jet taxied into the building.
Minutes later, a half dozen vehicles, one carrying Manuel Ibarra Herrera, director of the Federal Judicial Police, drove away, taking Caro Quintero to the local headquarters of Interpol.
There also were dozens of police in front of the international police organization’s building.
A second plane, thought to be carrying a 17-year-old Mexican girl taken into custody when Caro Quintero was captured, and who said she had been kidnapped, was not seen at the airport.
Caro Quintero, 33, was captured Thursday at an estate outside San Jose. He is a prime suspect in the kidnap-murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Costa Rican officials had said they did not plan to file charges against Caro Quintero and would turn him over to Mexican authorities.
Earlier Friday, a U.S. official said it was hoped that documents seized when Caro Quintero was arrested may lead police to others involved in the murder of Camarena.
″We feel there might possibly be evidence that would permit us to assist the government of Mexico in arresting others involved in the murder of Enrique Camarena,″ said Donald Clements, DEA attache at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose.
Clements declined to elaborate, but said police had found ″documents with evidenciary value to the United States.″
He told reporters he would ask that the documents be studied in Washington, then returned to Costa Rican authorities.
Police who arrested Caro Quintero also found $150,000 in travelers checks plus jewelry and several weapons, including a gold-plated pistol with Caro Quintero’s name engraved on the handle and a diamond-studded handgun, according to Clements.
The man in custody has said he is really Marcos Antonio Rios Valenzuela, but ″we are sure it is Caro Quintero,″ Clements said.
He added that Washington does not now plan to ask that the suspect be extradited to the United States.
″At this point, it is a matter between Mexico and Costa Rica. Later, it could become a matter between Mexico and the United States. But for now, Mexico is the proper country for extradition,″ Clements said.
Caro Quintero entered Costa Rica on March 17, according to Clements, and he said local authorities were considering charging him with illegal entry, illegal possession of weapons and assault with a deadly weapon.
But Rodrigo Castro Monge, of the Judicial Investigations Office, said Friday that Costa Rica would not charge Caro Quintero, thus keeping his case under the jurisdiction of the Public Security Ministry, which is part of the executive branch.
Under Costa Rican law, the executive branch can expel undocumented aliens without filing charges against them and without going through the judicial system.
Mexican authorities say Caro Quintero is a major drug trafficker based in Guadalajara, and that he had vowed many times to kill Camarena, who was kidnapped Feb. 7. near the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara.
Camarena’s beaten body, wrapped in a plastic bag, was found on a ranch 60 miles southeast of Guadalajara on March 5, along with the body of a Mexican pilot who worked for Camarena and was abducted separately.
John Gavin, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has called Caro Quintero ″one of the intellectual authors″ of Camarena’s slaying.
Mexico’s attorney general’s office had issued a warrant for Caro Quintero’s arrest for questioning. It also has filed murder charges against seven active or retired Mexican policemen in connection with the case.
Caro Quintero’s arrest early Thursday followed a tip by U.S. authorities.
Security Minister Benjamin Piza said about 40 civil guardsmen surrounded the estate and demanded Caro Quintero surrender, and a brief gun battle ensued before Caro Quintero was seized.
Police also took into custody four other men and the 17-year-old Mexican girl who said she had been kidnapped. Clements said the four men apparently gave police false names and their identities had not been determined.
Caro Quintero had last been seen in public on Feb. 9 at the Guadalajara airport where he embraced a ranking police officer and then boarded a private plane.