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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

EXTRADITION / 19 JUL 2012

Guatemalan drug boss Walther Overdick will be extradited to the United States, highlighting the role of extradition in the Central…

COLOMBIA / 17 NOV 2016

Colombian kingpin "Mi Sangre" has been extradited from Argentina to the United States, closing a chapter in one of the…

BOLIVIA / 1 APR 2015

Bolivia's capture of two Peruvians who allegedly worked for the Tijuana Cartel highlights Bolivia's central role in the region's cocaine…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…