Benjamin Arellano-Felix assumed leadership of the Arellano-Felix organization
after Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989 for his involvement of
the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Benjamin manages and
oversees all of the cartel's drug trafficking operations.
Benjamin was arrested on June 18, 1982 in Downey, California for receiving 100
kilos of cocaine smuggled through the San Ysidro border. He is currently a
fugitive based on a federal indictment issued in San Diego on May 2, 1989 for
conspiracy, money laundering, controlled substance trafficking, aiding and
abetting and operating a criminal organization.
On May 11, 2000 U.S. authorities unsealed a 10-count indictment charging
Benjamin Arellano-Felix and his brother Ramon with operating a drug smuggling
organization and kidnapping and murdering rival drug traffickers, informants
and law enforcement officers. Benjamin Arellano-Felix has also been included in
the $2 million reward offered for information leading to the arrest of his
brother Ramon, who has been on the FBI's most wanted list for three years.
Ramon Arellano-Felix, considered the most violent brother, reportedly
coordinates the organization's security, often recruiting personnel from
violent street gangs. The AFO's security forces, described by Mexican law
enforcement officials as paramilitary, are well-trained and well-armed. One of
Ramon's responsibilities is to plan the murders of rival drug leaders, those
law enforcement officials not on the take, and any members of the AFO who fall
out of favor with the cartel leadership.
Ramon was issued an arrest warrant on June 16, 1993 for drug and arms
violations. In September 1997, his picture was added to the FBI's 10 Most
Wanted list. He had been secretly indicted by a San Diego grand jury for
money-laundering and drug trafficking.
Ramon and his brother Benjamin were indicted on May 11, 2000 for operating a
drug smuggling operation and maintaining it through violence, threats and
bribery. The two were also designated appropriate for sanctions on June 2, 2000
through the Kingpin Act, which targets the activities of significant foreign
narcotics traffickers and their organizations on a worldwide basis.
The U.S. State Department has offered a $2 million reward for information
leading to Ramon Arellano-Felix's capture.
Reportedly the third-ranking member of the cartel after brothers Benjamin and
Ramon, Francisco Javier controls the organization's finances. In 1997, An
arrest warrant was issued for him in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on drug and
arms violations. He was also included along with his brothers Benjamin and
Ramon in the $1 million reward offered by Mexican federal prosecutors for their
The eldest Arellano-Felix brother, Francisco Rafael Arellano-Felix, coordinated
the buying and selling of narcotics for the organization. On December 4, 1993,
he was arrested by the Mexican Federal Judicial Police in Tijuana, who seized
$150,000.00 from him. As of October, 2000, he is the only Arellano-Felix
brother currently behind bars, Francisco is incarcerated at the Almoloya De
Juarez Maximum Security Prison in Toluca, Mexico, on violations of illegal arms
possession, drug charges, and complicity in the murder of Cardinal Posadas
Ocampo. Francisco Rafael Arellano-Felix continues to serve his seven-year
sentence, but with time off for good behavior, he could be released at any
Eduardo Arellano-Felix reportedly coordinates the smuggling of cocaine
shipments to the United States. In 1982, he was arrested along with his brother
Benjamin and wife Maria Esperanza Martinez de Arellano in Downey, California.
They had received 100 kilograms of cocaine smuggled through the San Ysidro,
California Point of Entry. In 1993, the Southern District Court of California
issued a warrant for his arrest for weapons offenses.
Carlos Arellano-Felix's role in the Tijuana Cartel is to reportedly coordinate
the smuggling of narcotics into the U.S. He currently is not wanted in the
Luis Fernando Arellano-Felix allegedly runs the family-owned businesses, which
are reportedly used for laundering the drug proceeds for the Arellano-Felix
Organization. He currently is not wanted in the United States.
The arrest of Ismael "El Mayel" Higuera Guerrero in May 2000 dealt a severe
blow to the Arellano-Felix Organization. Reportedly a principal lieutenant for
the AFO, Higuera Guerrero ran cross-border drug trafficking operations and
directed the kidnapping, murder and torture of cartel rivals. He has been
described as one of the main contacts between lower level drug smugglers and
the Tijuana Cartel.
On May 4, 2000, Mexican soldiers and federal police arrested Higuera Guerrero
and eight others after a raid on his beachfront home in Ensenada. Following
his arrest, federal prosecutors in San Diego unsealed an indictment against
Higuera, accusing him of drug trafficking and money laundering. The federal
charges filed against him stem from the capture in 1995 of an airplane carrying
10 tons of cocaine.
Higuera Guerrero also faces a homicide charge in a Baja California state court
for his role in the 1994 slaying of Tijuana's federal police commander,
Federico Benítez López. He has also been linked to the slayings
of the three anti-drug agents in Tijuana last April, as well as the murder of
Tijuana's police chief, Alfredo De la Torre Márquez last February.
Higuera Guerrero had formed a group of collaborators including his son Ismael
Higuera Flores, who was arrested by the PGR in May of 1998 for possession of
weapons and drugs and subsequently freed on bail. His other son, Gilberto
Higuera Ávila, reportedly controls the cartel's drug trafficking
operations out of Mexicali.
Mexican prosecutors filed new charges of drug trafficking and organized crime
against Higuera Guerrero in May. He is now being held at the maximum-security
prison Almoloya de Juárez prison in Mexico City.
On March 12, 2000, Mexican soldiers armed with automatic weapons nabbed
Jesús "El Chuy" Labra Avilés, the AFO's financial mastermind, as
he watched his son play football in Tijuana. Authorities on both sides of the
border consider his arrest a further step toward dismantling the Arellano-Felix
Accused of illegal possession of a firearm, Labra Avilés was flown to
Mexico City, where a judge placed him under house arrest for three months. In
May of 2000, Mexican prosecutors filed new charges against both Higuera
Guerrero and Labra Avilés, accusing them of drug trafficking and
organized crime. Labra was subsequently transferred to the maximum security
prison Almoloya de Juarez.
Days after Labra's arrest, his lawyer, Gustavo Galvez Reyes, was found tortured
Manuel Aguirre Galindo, part of the Arellano-Felix Organization's "consejo de
jefes" or "chief counsel" of high-ranking members, is allegedly responsible for
establishing relationships with businesses in which the cartel invests its
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