Drug lord's release painful for victims' relatives

By Michael Weissenstein

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 18 2013 12:18 a.m. MDT

Her father was a Marine who was twice wounded by land mines in Vietnam and then worked as a newspaper journalist before taking his family to Mexico so he could write his book in a place where his pension could stretch further. He and his wife were befriended by Radelat, a dentist looking at taking classes at the main university in Guadalajara.

A Catholic by birth, Benjamin Mascarenas became a Jehovah's Witness through conversion and met his wife Pat at a church function. They did janitorial work in Reno, Nev., before moving to Guadalajara, where they house-sat for a wealthy acquaintance. Dennis and Rose Carlson moved from Redding, Calif., to support a church effort to spread their faith in Mexico.

The bodies of the two couples were never found.

Two state police officials said that they helped kidnap and kill the couples on the order of Caro Quintero and fellow capo Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, according to agent Hector Berrellez, who ran the Los Angeles-based operation going after those involved in Camarena's murder. The Jehovah's Witnesses inadvertently knocked on Fonseca Carrillo's door as they proselytized on Dec. 2, 1984, Berrellez said. Believing they were undercover agents, the capos had their underlings capture and kill them, Berrellez said.

Some DEA veterans question that theory. James Kuykendall, the former agent in charge of the DEA office in Guadalajara, told The Associated Press that he has never seen any evidence to support it.

Many of the couples' relatives do believe a version of the cops' tale.

"I've got his picture right here," said Benjamin Mascarenas' mother Mercy, who is 86. "I'm looking at him and thinking of how wonderful it would be if they were alive. He was as sweet as pie and they just loved each other so much."

Dennis Carlson was "just an all-around good person" dedicated to spreading his faith, recalled his brother, Stanley, a 58-year-old semi-retired mortgage banker.

"They just knocked on the wrong door and that led to the four of them being abducted," Carlson said. "It makes me feel bad in general that this guy is running around if he is in fact responsible."

He said his family rarely talked about the murders, and relied on their faith to cope with the pain.

"We're not looking for any type of vindication or vindictiveness or anything of that nature because it's not our place," he said. "We feel that there's a better world that awaits people of faith."

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mweissenstein

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