Ex-partner of Fresno DEA agent murdered by Mexico drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero speaks out

Warren Armstrong Image
Saturday, July 16, 2022
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Former Fresno police officer Pete Santellano worked side by side with Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena, before his murder by drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An infamous drug lord behind the murder of a Fresno DEA agent has been captured.

Authorities captured the elusive Rafael Caro Quintero in Mexico, but he could be extradited to the US soon.

Quintero is responsible for the 1985 torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena, whose plight was dramatized in the Netflix show 'Narcos Mexico'.

RELATED: Mexican narco kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, wanted for 1985 killing of DEA agent, captured in Mexico

One of Camarena's former partners in Fresno shared his reaction to the big arrest.

Former Fresno police officer Pete Santellano worked side-by-side with Kiki Camarena in a major narcotics unit when Camarena was with the DEA in Fresno.

"We were real close. I miss him a lot," he says.

Santellano saw Camarena just weeks before he disappeared in Mexico, and says the CIA suspected Guadalajara police were involved.

"So.. CIA went to their office and they bugged their office and during that time, they heard a tape of Kiki being tortured and it was actually on tape and after that they located Kiki's body and his pilot's body," he says.

Camarena's murder strained US-Mexico relations at the time.

Even now, Santellano is happy but cynical about the capture of Caro Quintero, coming just days after the Mexican president's visit to the White House.

"To me, it's like a political move. If they wanted to capture him, they probably would have captured him another time," he says.

Quintero had been on the FBI's top ten most wanted list since 2018.

A search dog named Max found him hiding in the brush in Sinaloa.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says his office will seek the immediate extradition of Caro Quintero to the United States so he can be tried in the very justice system Special Agent Camarena died defending.