EL CENTRO — A convicted drug trafficker implicated in the 1985 torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was arrested in Mexico and returned to California to face a charge of probation violation.
Ezequiel Godinez Cervantes, 77, was arrested Wednesday in Mexicali by authorities acting on information from the FBI that he had crossed the border, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Godinez was handed over to U.S. authorities at the border and arraigned Thursday in federal court in El Centro. It was unclear whether he has a lawyer.
Camerena Worked in DEA’s Fresno Office
Camarena, who was born in Mexico, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and then became a police officer. Camarena first joined the DEA in 1975. Two years later, he transferred to the agency’s Fresno office. In 1981, moved to DEA’s Guadalajara office in Mexico.
The Netflix series Narcos: Mexico tells Camarena’s story from his return to Mexico through his kidnapping, torture, and murder by the now-defunct Guadalajara Cartel. The horrific death marked the first time a cartel had attacked and killed a U.S. drug agent.
The cartel was reportedly run by Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero, the latter of whom was added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2018 — with a $20 million bounty — for his alleged involvement in Camarena’s death.
Godinez Accused Several Times of Murder
Godinez was wanted since last year for probation violations involving a 1997 federal court case in California, court records indicate. That case involved a previous prison-escape conviction, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Godinez, a Texas native, was a member of the Guadalajara Cartel, according to law enforcement. Witnesses implicated Godinez, although he was never charged with Camarena’s 1985 killing, the Union-Tribune said
The same witnesses implicated him in the 1984 kidnap-killings of four Jehovah’s Witnesses as they sold religious books door-to-door in Mexico. But Godinez also wasn’t charged in their deaths, the paper reported.
Godinez Convicted of Drug Trafficking
In the 1990s, he was charged with the 1985 slayings of two U.S. residents in Guadalajara. The men, one from Texas and the other from Minnesota, unwittingly entered a bar where drug traffickers were partying and were stabbed with ice picks and beaten to death.
Godinez was arrested in Texas in 1996, but the charges against him were dropped the next year.
Godinez also was convicted of federal drug trafficking charges in Texas in the 1990s.
Camerena’s Son Is a Judge
Enrique S. Camarena Jr. became a San Diego Superior Court judge in 2014. At his swearing-in, he said he was following his father’s “legacy of duty.”