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

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 12 AUG 2021

Mexico's process of criminal fragmentation has been a slow burn. Many of the country's mightiest criminal groups have been unable…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…