Cristina and Alejandro Hodoyan are middle class parents from Tijuana,
Mexico. Their lives changed drastically when their oldest son Alex Hodoyan
disappeared in the mid-1990's. They soon found out that he had been arrested
in Guadalajara for having connections to the Arellano-Felix cartel, the cartel
that controls Tijuana. The Hodoyans say that Alex was brutally tortured by his
captors in the Mexican military, in a unit controlled by General Gutierrez
Rebollo, who has since been arrested for drug corruption. After months of
confinement and alleged torture, Alex confessed to being involved in the
Arellano-Felix cartel and the confession was videotaped.
Zill is a producer of FRONTLINE's "Drug War" series.
Soon after, Alex's brother Alfredo was arrested in San Diego on gun charges.
The US arrested Alfredo based on information provided by General Gutierrez
Rebollo to the American authorities. The Mexican government requested
Alfredo's extradition to Mexico on charges that he had participated in the
murder of a federal prosecutor as part of the Arellano-Felix cartel. The
parents were shocked and do not believe their son had anything to do with this
View a Video Report on the Arellano-Felix Cartel and Narco 'Juniors'
In a strange series of events, Alex Hodoyan was eventually flown by Mexican
authorities to the United States and handed over to the DEA. The DEA and San
Diego Assistant US Attorney Gonzalo Curiel attempted to convince Alex to become
a witness for their cases against the Arellano-Felix cartel. They offered the
witness protection program to Alex. Alex, who was free but being kept in a San
Diego hotel, believed that he would be forced to testify against his own
brother and fled back to Tijuana. He was kidnapped while driving with his
mother in Tijuana several days later and has never been seen since. He is
Alfredo Hodoyan was extradited to Mexico and is now awaiting trial in Almaloya,
Mexico's high security prison outside of Mexico City. The family still hopes
that Alex will someday be found alive.
In another bizarre twist to the story, Alex's captor, General Gutierrez
Rebollo, was discovered to be working for a rival cartel the entire time that
he was attacking the Arellano-Felix cartel. US authorities were shocked by
this revelation. The Hodoyan family still believes that Gutierrez Rebollo's
faction was responsible for the kidnapping of Alex. Assistant United States
Attorney Gonzalo Curiel believes that the Arellano-Felix brothers had Alex
killed because he had talked to the authorities and was considered a liability
to the cartel. But, as the father, Alejandro Hodoyan says in his
interview,"It's hard to know who the bad guys are."
Alex and Alfredo are part of what has become known as "the Juniors" The
Juniors are a group of Tijuana children from middle and upper class families
who became friends with one of the Arellano-Felix brothers, Ramon, during the
1980s when they were all in their teens and early 20s. They partied
together in Tijuana discos and many began to get pulled into working for the
brothers in the drug trade. From interviews with "Steve" who was also a
"junior," and the Hodoyan family, it is clear that these young men and woman
became involved not necessarily out of a desire to become wealthy, but more out
of a desire for the "la fama," or the fame of being involved with gangsters.
Of Alex and Alfredo's generation of juniors, almost all are now either in jail,
missing or dead.
The Arellano-Felix brothers are still at large and US authorities believe that
they are still in control of the drug trade in Tijuana.
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