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Mexico moves jailed drug lord Fonseca Carrillo to house arrest

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Mexican authorities transferred aging drug lord Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo to house arrest Thursday after serving 31 years in prison for the killing of a US undercover agent.

Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico's penitentiary system, said Fonseca Carrillo was moved to a house near Mexico City before dawn to finish the last nine years of his 40-year sentence following a judge's order.

"We tried for more than a year to avoid carrying this out, but a judge decided the opposite and ordered us to do this," Guerrero told the Televisa network.

The 86-year-old capo's release means that two of the three founders of the once powerful Guadalajara drug cartel linked to the agent's murder are out of prison.

Last year, a federal court approved Fonseca Carrillo's request to finish his sentence under house arrest after his lawyers said he should be released due to his advanced age and illnesses.

One of his 15 children, Yoanna, said her 86-year-old father "possibly has colon cancer" and has lost vision in one eye, among other ailments.

Fonseca Carrillo, alias "Don Neto," had been held at the Puente Grande prison in the western state of Jalisco. His lawyer said he would complete his sentence at a house in Atizapan de Zaragoza, just outside Mexico City.

He was convicted of the 1985 murder of US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, a crime that strained US-Mexican relations at the time.

Fonseca Carrillo is the oldest of the three founders of the now defunct Guadalajara drug cartel. They are considered the forefathers of modern drug trafficking in Mexico.

In 2013, a court freed cartel co-founder Rafael Caro Quintero on a legal technicality with 12 years left in his 40-year prison sentence over Camarena's murder, a move that angered US authorities.

Their third partner, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias "The Godfather," remains in prison.

- Electronic bracelet -

Guerrero said Fonseca Carrillo was placed in the care of his wife and will wear an electronic bracelet to monitor his movements.

Four guards will watch his house 24 hours a day, while surveillance cameras were placed outside and a social worker will visit him twice a week.

Authorities opposed his transfer because "he founded one of the cartels that hurt this country the most," Guerrero said.

"He's a high-profile person who harmed a lot of people in the 1980s and 1970s," he told Televisa. "He didn't fulfill the necessary characteristics for this person to finish his sentence in a house."

His daughter, Yoanna, told AFP that her father was "not linked" to any drug cartel and that he has always maintained his innocence over Camarena's murder.

Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, said the authorities opposed Fonseca Carrillo's release for fear of seeing him vanish like Caro Quintero.

"They didn't want to relive this type of ghost," Hope said.

Camarena's murder was considered a vendetta by the Guadalajara cartel for the DEA agent's investigations that led to the seizure of a massive marijuana field in the northern state of Chihuahua.

Caro Quintero denied killing Camarena in an interview that was published by Mexican magazine Proceso on Sunday.

Mexican authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Caro Quintero's extradition to face US charges over the murder.

A US indictment alleges that Camarena was taken to Caro Quintero's house in the western city of Guadalajara, where for three days he was interrogated, tortured and ultimately killed along with his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala.

Their bodies were found in the western state of Michoacan a month later.

Mexican authorities transferred aging drug lord Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo to house arrest Thursday after serving 31 years in prison for the killing of a US undercover agent.

Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s penitentiary system, said Fonseca Carrillo was moved to a house near Mexico City before dawn to finish the last nine years of his 40-year sentence following a judge’s order.

“We tried for more than a year to avoid carrying this out, but a judge decided the opposite and ordered us to do this,” Guerrero told the Televisa network.

The 86-year-old capo’s release means that two of the three founders of the once powerful Guadalajara drug cartel linked to the agent’s murder are out of prison.

Last year, a federal court approved Fonseca Carrillo’s request to finish his sentence under house arrest after his lawyers said he should be released due to his advanced age and illnesses.

One of his 15 children, Yoanna, said her 86-year-old father “possibly has colon cancer” and has lost vision in one eye, among other ailments.

Fonseca Carrillo, alias “Don Neto,” had been held at the Puente Grande prison in the western state of Jalisco. His lawyer said he would complete his sentence at a house in Atizapan de Zaragoza, just outside Mexico City.

He was convicted of the 1985 murder of US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a crime that strained US-Mexican relations at the time.

Fonseca Carrillo is the oldest of the three founders of the now defunct Guadalajara drug cartel. They are considered the forefathers of modern drug trafficking in Mexico.

In 2013, a court freed cartel co-founder Rafael Caro Quintero on a legal technicality with 12 years left in his 40-year prison sentence over Camarena’s murder, a move that angered US authorities.

Their third partner, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “The Godfather,” remains in prison.

– Electronic bracelet –

Guerrero said Fonseca Carrillo was placed in the care of his wife and will wear an electronic bracelet to monitor his movements.

Four guards will watch his house 24 hours a day, while surveillance cameras were placed outside and a social worker will visit him twice a week.

Authorities opposed his transfer because “he founded one of the cartels that hurt this country the most,” Guerrero said.

“He’s a high-profile person who harmed a lot of people in the 1980s and 1970s,” he told Televisa. “He didn’t fulfill the necessary characteristics for this person to finish his sentence in a house.”

His daughter, Yoanna, told AFP that her father was “not linked” to any drug cartel and that he has always maintained his innocence over Camarena’s murder.

Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, said the authorities opposed Fonseca Carrillo’s release for fear of seeing him vanish like Caro Quintero.

“They didn’t want to relive this type of ghost,” Hope said.

Camarena’s murder was considered a vendetta by the Guadalajara cartel for the DEA agent’s investigations that led to the seizure of a massive marijuana field in the northern state of Chihuahua.

Caro Quintero denied killing Camarena in an interview that was published by Mexican magazine Proceso on Sunday.

Mexican authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Caro Quintero’s extradition to face US charges over the murder.

A US indictment alleges that Camarena was taken to Caro Quintero’s house in the western city of Guadalajara, where for three days he was interrogated, tortured and ultimately killed along with his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala.

Their bodies were found in the western state of Michoacan a month later.

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