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DEA Background Information (2/97)

The ARELLANO-Felix Organization (AFO), often referred to as the Tijuana Cartel, is one of the most powerful and aggressive drug trafficking organizations operating from Mexico; it is undeniably the most violent. More than any other major trafficking organization from Mexico, this organization extends its tentacles directly from high-echelon figures in the law enforcement and judicial systems in Mexico to street-level individuals in United States cities. The AFO is responsible for the transportation, importation and distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine, marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine, into the United States from Mexico. The AFO operates primarily in the Mexican states of Sinaloa (their birth place), Jalisco, Michoacan, Chiapas, and Baja California South and North. From Baja, the drugs enter California, the primary point of embarkation into the United States distribution network.

The ARELLANO family, composed of seven brothers and four sisters, inherited the organization from Miguel Angel FELIX-Gallardo upon his incarceration in Mexico in 1989 for his complicity in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena. Alberto Benjamin ARELLANO-Felix assumed leadership of the family structured criminal enterprise and provides a businessman's approach to the management of drug trafficking operations.

Ramon Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix, considered the most violent brother, organizes and coordinates protection details over which he exerts absolute control. The AFO maintains well armed and well-trained security forces, described by Mexican enforcement officials as paramilitary in nature, which include international mercenaries as advisors, trainers and members. Ramon ARELLANO's responsibilities consist of the planning of murders of rival drug leaders and those Mexican law enforcement officials not on their payroll. Also targeted for assassination are those AFO members who fall out of favor with the AFO leadership or simply are suspected of collaborating with law enforcement officials. He oversees and directs the recruitment of enforcers and hit teams. Enforcers are often hired from violent street gangs in cities and towns in both Mexico and the United States in the belief that these gang members are expendable. They are dispatched to assassinate targeted individuals and to send a clear message to those who attempt to utilize the Mexicali/Tijuana corridor without paying the area transit tax demanded by the AFO trafficking domain.

The AFO also maintains complex communications centers in several major cities in Mexico to conduct electronic espionage and counter surveillance measures against law enforcement entities. The organization employs radio scanners and equipment capable of intercepting both hard line and cellular phones to ensure the security of AFO operations. In addition to technical equipment, the AFO maintains caches of sophisticated automatic weaponry secured from a variety of international sources.

In May 1993, according to Mexican authorities, the group attempted to assassinate a rival trafficker, Joaquin GUZMAN-Loera, at the Guadalajara Airport. During the ensuing gun battle, Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was accidentally murdered as he rode through the airport in a vehicle similar to that of the intended target. As many as six gang members involved in the shoot-out were Mexican Americans from a San Diego street gang called "Logan Calle 30," which had been recruited as bodyguards for the ARELLANO-Felix hierarchy. Another example of the group's violence occurred in June 1994 when they set off a bomb at the Camino Real Hotel in Guadalajara. The intended target was a rival trafficker who was hosting a party for his 15-year-old daughter. Two men were killed and 15 others wounded. More recently, on September 14, 1996 MFJP Comandante Ernesto IBARRA-Santes and two Tijuana based MFJP Agents were shot and killed in Mexico City. Comandante IBARRA had recently assumed the duties of Subdelegado of the Procuraduria General De La Republica in Tijuana, Baja California/Norte.

A Joint Task Force composed of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been established in San Diego, California to target the AFO; the Task Force is investigating AFO operations in southern California and related regional investigations which track drug transportation, distribution and money laundering activities of the AFO throughout the United States. The ARELLANO-Felix organization is based in Tijuana and controls the smuggling of cocaine, marijuana and, more recently, methamphetamine across the border to California. One brother, Francisco, is in jail while two other brothers, Benjamin and Ramon, continue to operate. Ramon is wanted on drug and weapons charges in Mexico.

Benjamin ARELLANO-Felix
(AKA EL MIN)

DOB:03/12/52
(Alt 11/08/53)
(Alt 08/11/55)
POB:Sinaloa, Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:5'10"
Weight:170 lbs.
Hair:Black
Eyes:Brown
Passport:6238295 (Mexico)

Benjamin ARELLANO-Felix is the leader of the ARELLANO-Felix organization. After Miguel FELIX-Gallardo's incarceration in 1987, for his involvement in the murder of S/A Enrique Camarena, Benjamin continued FELIX-Gallardo's operation in western Mexico.

On June 18, 1982, Benjamin was arrested along with his brother Eduardo and sister-in-law Maria Esperanza MARTINEZ De Arellano in Downey, California. They were the recipients of 100 kilograms of cocaine that was smuggled through the San Ysidro, California Point of Entry. They were charged and booked for violation of the California State Narcotics Law at the Montebello Police Department.

Benjamin ARELLANO-Felix is a fugitive based on a federal indictment #CR 890439 JLI-05 issued on May 2, 1989 in San Diego, California for controlled substance conspiracy, distribution, importation, money laundering, ITAR, aiding and abetting and continuing criminal enterprise. A federal arrest warrant for extraditable offenses was issued in San Diego, California.

INDICTMENTS:

  • #CR 890439 JLI-05 issued in San Diego, CA on 512l89 for controlled substance conspiracy, distribution, importation, money laundering, ITAR, aiding and abetting and operating a continuing criminal enterprise.

Carlos Alberto ARELLANO-Felix

DOB:08/20/55
POB:Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:Unknown
Weight:Unknown
Hair:Brown
Eyes:Brown
Passport:Unknown

Carlos ARELLANO-Felix is involved in the drug trafficking activities of the ARELLANO Felix organization. He reportedly coordinates the importation of narcotics into the United States. He is not wanted in the United States.

INDICTMENTS:

  • None.

Francisco Rafael ARELLANO-Felix

DOB:10/24/49
POB:Sinaloa, Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:5'9"
Weight:180 lbs.
Hair:Black
Eyes:Brown
Passport:56183 (Mexico)

Francisco Rafael ARELLANO-Felix coordinated the buying, selling, and movements of narcotics on behalf of the ARELLANO-Felix organization. He was arrested on August 7, 1980, in San Diego after delivering 205 grams of cocaine to an undercover Agent. On December 4, 1993, he was arrested by the Mexican Federal Judicial Police in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico and $150,000.00 was seized. He is currently 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 is named in the following indictments and warrants: indictment #CR 80-0561K-03 was issued on October 8, 1980 in the Southern District of California for conspiracy with the intention of distributing a controlled substance/possession; a federal arrest warrant was issued on October 8, 1980 for failure to appear. Indictment #CR 86-1012K-01 was issued on December 5, 1986, on bail jumping violations. In Mexico a provisional arrest warrant #93-3008M was issued on August 6, 1993 for weapons violations, and arrest warrant #125/93 was issued on June 16, 1993 for drug and arms violations.

INDICTMENTS:

  • #CR 80-0561K-03, issued in the Southern District of California on 10/8/80 for conspiracy with the intention of distributing a controlled substance/possession
  • #CR 86-1012K-01, issued on 1215186 on bail jumping violations

Francisco Javier ARELLANO-Felix

DOB:11/12/69
POB:Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:5'7"
Weight:200 lbs.
Hair:Brown
Eyes:Brown
Passport:Unknown

Francisco Javier ARELLANO-Felix reportedly controls the organization's finances. He is currently wanted in Mexico. An arrest warrant (#125/93) was issued for him in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on drug and arms violations.

INDICTMENTS:

  • Arrest warrant #125/93 issued in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on drug and arms violations

Ramon Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix
(AKA COLORES)

DOB:08/31/64
(Alt 11/29/46)
(Alt 07/29/45)
POB:Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:6'0"
Weight:193 lbs.
Hair:Brown
Eyes:Brown
Passport:Unknown

Ramon ARELLANO-Felix reportedly coordinates the organization's security as well as participates in the international trafficking of narcotics. He is responsible for recruiting personnel, often from violent street gangs, to guard both their properties and their operations. He reportedly organized and participated with the group of gunmen tasked with killing Joaquin GUZMAN-Loera at the Guadalajara Airport on May 24, 1993. GUZMAN was not killed in this assassination attempt; however, Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was accidentally killed.

On June 16, 1993, arrest warrant #125/93 was issued in Mexico for Ramon Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix for drug and arms violations.

INDICTMENTS:

  • Arrest warrant #125/93 issued on 6116193 in Mexico for drug and arms violations

Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix
(AKA COLORES)

DOB:11/10/56
POB:Unknown
Nationality:Unknown
Height:5'10"
Weight:175 lbs.
Hair:Black
Eyes:Brown
Passport:Unknown

Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix reportedly coordinates the smuggling of cocaine shipments to the United States. On June 18, 1982, he was arrested along with his brother Benjamin and wife Maria Esperanza MARTINEZ de Arellano in Downey, California. They were the recipients of 100 kilograms of cocaine that was smuggled through the San Ysidro, California Point of Entry. They were charged and booked for violation of the California State Narcotics Law at the Montebello Police Department.

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Eduardo ARELLANO-Felix on August 6, 1993 in the Southern District of California for weapons offenses.

INDICTMENTS:

  • Federal arrest warrant issued 8l6l93 in the Southern District of California for weapons offenses

Luis Fernando ARELLANO-Felix

DOB:01/26/66
POB:Guliacan, Sinaloa
Nationality:Unknown
Height:5'8"
Weight:182 lbs.
Hair:Dark Brown
Eyes:Dark Brown
Passport:Unknown

Luis Fernando ARELLANO-Felix reportedly operates the family-owned businesses. These businesses are reportedly used for laundering the drug proceeds for the ARELLANO-Felix drug trafficking organization. He currently is not wanted in the United States.

INDICTMENTS:

  • None.

Ismael HIGUERA-Guerrero
(AKA EL MAYEL)

DOB:03/17/61
POB:Sinaloa, Mexico
Nationality:Mexican
Height:5'10"
Weight:150 lbs.
Hair:Brown
Eyes:Brown
Passport:Unknown

Ismael HIGUERA-Guerrero is reportedly a principal lieutenant for the ARELLANO-Felix drug trafficking organization. He allegedly controls day-to-day operations of the Tijuana Cartel, coordinating the transportation and distribution of narcotics shipments through Mexicali and Tijuana into the United States. HIGUERA was identified by Mexican authorities as one of the main characters involved in the shoot-out that took place between the Federal Judicial Police and elements of the State Judicial Police, in Tijuana, B.C., on March 3, 1994. On May 3, 1994, an arrest warrant was issued for him in Mexico for his participation in this attack.

INDICTMENTS:

  • Arrest warrant issued on 5l3l94 in Mexico for his participation in a shoot-out between the MFJP and the State Judicial Police


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