HomeNewsBriefFormer Tijuana Cartel Head Pleas Guilty in U.S. Court
BRIEF

Former Tijuana Cartel Head Pleas Guilty in U.S. Court

EXTRADITION / 5 JAN 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

A former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, and one of the most powerful drug barons ever prosecuted in the United States, has pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering charges in a San Diego court.

Benjamin Arellano Felix accepted the charges against him as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials agreed to dismiss other charges against him that, if convicted, could have resulted in a sentence of up to 140 years in prison. As it stands, Arellano Felix will likely be given 25 years when he is sentenced on April 2nd.

Arellano’s sentence is relatively light for the charges against him, especially when compared to the sentences received by his former deputies. His younger brother Francisco, who was captured by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2006, was sentenced to life in prison in a San Diego court in 2007. Another lieutenant of his, Jesus Labra Aviles, received a 40-year sentence in 2010.

InSight Crime Analysis

Benjamin Arellano Felix's guilty plea is a testament to how far he has fallen since the late 1990s, when Mexican officials considered him one of the top drug lords in the country.

Back then, the Tijuana Cartel was a major player in Mexico's criminal underworld. He and his brother Ramon Felix Arellano inherited the Tijuana Cartel from their uncle, the legendary Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias "el Padrino." Shortly thereafter, Ramon ordered the death of a close associate of the Sinaloa Cartel's Joaquin Guzman, alias "El Chapo," sparking a conflict that lasted for more than 15 years.

However, an aggressive campaign by law enforcement beginning in the early 2000s significantly weakened the Tijuana Cartel, and since 2009 it appears to have agreed to a truce with their rivals. The Sinaloans, in comparison, have taken off. Along with the notoriously violent Zetas, they are considered one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTRADITION / 21 NOV 2011

The Guatemala government's decision to extradite ex-President Alfonso Portillo to the U.S. is a noble one. But even if Portillo…

EXTRADITION / 2 MAR 2015

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has said he will seek to prevent US extradition for leaders of guerrilla group the FARC, in…

EXTRADITION / 12 MAY 2014

Carlos "El Negro" Lobo has become the first Honduran drug trafficker to be extradited from Honduras to the United States,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.