The capture of Tijuana Cartel leader Fernando Sanchez Arellano has left his mother in charge of the Mexican drug trafficking group, a change that could herald a shift towards semi-legal business operations and less violence.
After the arrest of Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias "El Ingeniero," on June 23, his mother Enedina Arellano Felix, alias "La Narcomami" (the narco-mom), has been left in command of the Tijuana Cartel, reported 24 Horas. Enedina is the sister of the Arellano Felix brothers who originally headed the organization.
With her former husband, Enedina allegedly ran several businesses -- including a chain of pharmacies and a real estate company -- used to launder the cartel's money. Sources cited in 24 Horas said Enedina oversaw the cartel's development from an extremely violent gang to a "pseudo business," favoring alliances with other organizations, including Colombian drug traffickers, over violence.
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The Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization, dominated the drug trade from the Tijuana area into California for close to 20 years. The organization also profited from taxing other criminal activity in the region, including contraband and human trafficking.
The Tijuana Cartel suffered a series of blows between 2002 and 2008 as the Arellano Felix brothers were captured or assassinated one by one, causing a leadership vacuum that led to the division of the organization.
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One faction allied itself with the Beltran Leyva Organization while the other formed ties with the Sinaloa Cartel, leading to a violent turf war in Tijuana that began to die down in 2010 amid speculation Fernando Sanchez Arellano had reached an agreement with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Although she has kept a lower profile than other cartel leaders, Enedina has been on the US Department of Treasury's list of drug traffickers since 2002. Given her previous role as the cartel's financial chief and reportedly less violent management style, her leadership could mark a shift in the organization's tactics.
If speculation that the Sinaloa Cartel controls the Arellano Felix clan's operations proves true, however, the change in leadership will likely have only a minor impact on the organization's activities.