The AFO, also known as the Tijuana cartel, has been weakened almost beyond recognition over the past year due to the efforts of both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement to capture several high-ranking leaders. The most symbolic was the October arrest of Eduardo “El Doctor” Arellano Felix, the only original Arellano Felix brother who had evaded capture.
Fighting among the various factions of the cartel itself has led to hundreds of deaths in the Tijuana area over the past 12 months and resulted in the splitting of the cartel into two factions. One is led by Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Zamora, a nephew of the original Arellano Felix brothers. Eduardo Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Sementa, who served as an enforcer under the Arellano Felix brothers, controls the rival faction. Disagreements over authority reportedly led to much of the violence between the two factions in the first half of 2008. The violence peaked on April 26 when three separate and prolonged gunbattles erupted on the streets of Tijuana, leaving 13 people dead and five wounded.
The most recent wave of violence, which claimed more than 100 lives over a two-week period in October, was again attributed to fighting between the two factions. In this case, however, El Teo’s offensive received the support of the Sinaloa cartel, which would benefit greatly from the access to the United States that control of Tijuana would provide.