Real Life & True Story

Real Life & True Story

Narcos: Mexico’s Rafa Caro Quintero, played by actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia, was last seen in prison in season 2. Today, his whereabouts are unknown.

Warning: the following contains SPOILERS for Narcos: Mexico.

Narcos: Mexico’s Rafael “Rafa” Caro Quintero, played by actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia, was one of the founders of the now-dissolved Guadalajara Cartel, also known as La Federacion – but where is Rafa Caro Quintero now? Though it’s unlikely that Narcos: Mexico season 4 will get the green light after the series ended in season 3, viewers continue to wonder what happened to the narcotraficos who inspired the series. Back in Narcos: Mexico season 1, Rafa was the right-hand man to Diego Luna’s Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, also known as “El Jefe de Jefes” (The Boss of Bosses). Although Rafa wasn’t the first person to develop high-THC sinsemilla or seedless marijuana in the early ‘80s, he was the first to cultivate and transport it on a grand scale. At the time, similar varieties of marijuana were also being developed in Mexico and the U.S., cultivated across small and remote plantations which yielded low quantities of varying quality, resulting in an unpredictable market.


After Gallardo gave Rafa the means to plant his marijuana on a 1,000-hectare field in the deserts of Chihuahua, La Federacion’s extensive transshipment network was able to ship enough marijuana up north to stabilize the price and availability of high-quality marijuana across the entire U.S. Combined with La Federacion’s shipments of Colombian cocaine to the U.S., it’s estimated that Rafa and his associates were making $5 billion annually, which was more than enough to bring the U.S. Drug War to Mexican shores. When the DEA busted Rafa’s field, they seized and destroyed over 10,000 tons of sinsemilla marijuana, with an estimated value of $160 million – the largest drug bust at the time. The bust was mainly due to the investigative efforts of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, played by Michael Pena in Narcos: Mexico. Authorities believe that the kidnapping, torture, and eventual murder of Kiki in 1985 was ordered by Rafa, who sought revenge after the DEA burned his fields.

Related: Narcos Mexico S3 Cast Guide: All New & Returning Characters

Narcos: Mexico season 1 ends with the DEA arresting Rafa Caro Quintero and then finding Kiki’s body. However, there’s much more to explore about Rafa’s story. Indeed, although Rafa’s last appearance as a side character in Narcos: Mexico season 2 sees him imprisoned, the real Rafa is still at large. In 1985, Rafa was arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison, primarily for Kiki’s murder. At the time, Mexican law only allowed inmates to serve 40 years max. However, Rafa’s long trial was building towards a 199-year sentence for various crimes. In 2013 – Rafa’s 28th year in prison – the Jalisco state court ruled that Rafa was improperly tried. The ruling questioned why Rafa was tried and convicted in a federal courtroom for murder – a crime that should’ve been tried at the state level. Although Rafa’s alleged drug trafficking activities were federal crimes, his initial sentence was for Kiki’s murder alone. This was the legal basis for Rafa’s release from prison during the early hours of August 9, 2013, a move that outraged both U.S. and Mexican authorities.

Where Is Rafa Quintero Today?

The next Narcos spinoff could very well feature Rafa Caro Quintero again. Not only is Rafa still at large, authorities believe that he continues to command narcotraficos as the head of the Caborca Cartel, which is based in the Northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. Because of his past and current crimes, Rafa remains listed on the FBI website as one of the agency’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. In fact, the FBI is offering a reward of up to $20 million “for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction.”

Narcos: Mexico’s Rafael “Rafa” Caro Quintero is believed to be the only remaining active member of the original founders of La Federacion. Although it’s unclear where the future seasons of Netflix’s Narcos will be set next, this means that Rafa could still return to any upcoming iterations of the crime drama series. Whether or not Rafa eventually gets caught again and lands in prison, Rafa’s alleged involvement in active cartels means that his story is not over just yet, and could technically still play out onscreen if Netflix greenlights Narcos: Mexico season 4.

Rafael Caro Quintero Net Worth

Currently, Rafa Quintero’s exact net worth is difficult to determine because of contradictory statements from Rafa’s camp and the authorities. Following orders for Rafa’s arrest and extradition to the United States, his lawyers brought forward a legal appeal for insolvency in 2020, stating that because Rafa is more than 60 years old and without a pension, he has neither the money nor the means to pay off his debts to society. However, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) maintains that Rafa continues to operate in the drug trade. Like Narcos: Mexico’s Don Neto, who has also been freed from prison, there is a possibility that Rafa is still a narcotrafico and actually still has a net worth amounting to tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Although Netflix never announced Narcos: Mexico season 4, any new evidence brought to light regarding Rafa, Don Neto, or any other former members of La Federacion is bound to reinvigorate interest in the discontinued series. For now, Rafa officially has no money wrapped in legally accessible or notifiable locations, making his precise net worth a mystery.

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About The Author

Peter Mutuc
(291 Articles Published)

Born, raised, and still based in the dystopian hellscape of Metro Manila, Philippines, Peter Mutuc’s knowledge of geekdom was forged in the ancient, lagging fires of 56kbps internet and dodgy forums – but now burns bright with the light of the eternal datasphere. Before his current foray into series and movie feature writing, Peter was a ghostwriter who aimlessly haunted the wasteland for copper pieces and XP. In the physical world, Peter was obsessed about biking as far as humanly possible and petting the occasional strange doge. Today, when he is not rummaging through the drit looking for useful numenera, Peter is either bothering his black-brown-white tabby cat T’Challa Kittenbane or brewing ginger beer at home. During the pandemic, while stuck inside a tiny condo unit that thankfully had a somewhat nice view, Peter also translated the book Migrantik by his favorite Filipino (Tagalog) author Norman “4 Joints” Wilwayco into English. The English translation of Migrantik, a novel about a pinoy immigrant parent’s journey in Australia and the drug war back at home, is now available on Amazon.

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