HomeNewsBriefTijuana Cartel Boss to Serve 25 Years in US Prison
BRIEF

Tijuana Cartel Boss to Serve 25 Years in US Prison

TIJUANA CARTEL / 3 APR 2012 BY TATIANA FARAMARZI EN

The sentencing of a former Tijuana Cartel kingpin to 25 years in a US prison has prompted the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to proclaim that the organization has met its end, but this may be premature.

On Monday a US federal court sentenced Benjamin Arellano Felix (pictured) to 25 years in prison, and ordered him to turn over $100 million in criminal proceeds. Once he has served his time in the US, Arellano will be deported to Mexico to complete a 22-year sentence that he began there in 2007, effectively ensuring that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

DEA Director Michele M. Leonhart stated that the sentencing represented a victory for her agency and President Felipe Calderon, and meant the “demise” of the Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO). Arellano was extradited to the US last April to face charges of extortion, money laundering and drug trafficking, and pleaded guilty in January as part of a deal that guaranteed him a maximum sentence of 25 years.

InSight Crime Analysis

The imprisonment of Arellano Felix, one of the founding members of the Tijuana Cartel, is an important milestone in the weakening of the cartel. However, it does not necessarily mean the end for the organization, which has survived the arrest of two other major leaders, an internal split, and a 20-year conflict with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Since Arellano Felix’s arrest in 2002, his strategic control over the Tijuana Cartel’s operations has decreased. His nephew, Fernando Sanchez Arellano, also known as “El Ingeniero,” has taken over the running of the organization. According to a statement by a Tijuana Cartel lieutenant captured in November, the cartel has recovered strength since the internal power struggle between forces loyal to Sanchez Arellano and those following rival Teodoro Garcia Simental, "El Teo," in 2009. Sanchez Arellano now commands twice the number of drug trafficking cells that he did at the time of the split, and the group may have established a non-aggression agreement with the Sinaloa Cartel, its former rival.

Arellano Felix joins a small number of Mexican kingpins who have been sentenced to time in a US prison. His conviction represents an achievement for authorities, serving as a warning to other cartel heads that they may also be extradited to the US, where it will be much more difficult to continue their criminal careers.

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

HOMICIDES / 26 JUL 2018

A new report says that executions linked to organized crime in Mexico have skyrocketed to record levels during the first…

JUAREZ CARTEL / 11 MAR 2011

The appointment of retired colonel Julian Leyzaola, the controversial former head of Tijuana's police force, to lead a security crackdown…

MEXICO / 13 JUN 2011

Mexico's authorities have linked two weapons allegedly found in the possession of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon to homicide…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…