Original Spanish article by: ZetaTijuana.com
Four years after he took leadership of the Arellano Felix Organization, Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias El Ingeniero (the engineer), is officially being pursued for crimes against health and involvement in organized crime by the General Prosecutor for the Republic (PGR). A federal warrant has been issued for his arrest, although for the moment he has only been formally charged with kidnapping. The United States has long ago recognized him as the leader of the cartel.
He is 34 years old and is known to work out religiously and have particularly large biceps. This bulky muscle-bound frame is in contrast with his height; he is barely over 5 feet tall. He has brown eyes, and a parted beard. He keeps a neat appearance and those who know him say he wears a permanent scowl on his face.
That is the portrait a detained member of the the CAF paints of Fernando Sanchez Arellano, the nephew of the two men who ran the organization he currently leads in the 80's and 90's in Baja California.
The definition is reminiscent of Benjamin Arellano the day he was captured on March 9th 2002 in Puebla. According to a former member of the cartel, Sanchez Arellano is different from other criminals. He doesn't like tattoos and doesn't look the part of the stereotypical Mexican narcotrafficker. He projects an aura of confidence and is accustomed to dressing in the latest North American and French designer brand clothes. He prefers a style of dress better fitted for a younger man.
Looking at him, no one would think his existence signifies death, even though he travels with a large contingent of bodyguards according to the information made available by various source in the intelligence community.
He keeps his brown hair cut short to better suit his balding pattern, which he hides under baseball caps adorned with the latest sports emblems. The hat also serves the purpose of hiding his identity. His clear complexion and impeccable skin tone is a sign of an adolescence spent in the city, though the pug-nose is a family characteristic, his is much thinner and well defined.
He is a dangerous man but doesn't look the part, despite having propelled himself to the front office of the violent criminal organization headed by his uncles; the Arellano Feliz brothers. Those close to him say he closely resembles Benjamin and Alicia.
Members of the police intelligence community on both sides of the border have photos of the capo that were taken in 2008 and 2009, but reasons that remain unclear, they weren't been released to the public at that time. His direct involvement in the illegal activities of the CAF have been documented for the last six years and yet, the first warrant issued for his arrest was issued on October 14th 2009 but the authorities chose not to make the announcement and kept the pictures a secret.
The warrant number is 19278 and the case number is 294, issued in 2009 in the judicial district of Tijuana. The charges are crimes against health and running a criminal enterprise. Additionally, during 201o, the Prosecutor for the State of Baja California accumulated evidence for other charges that will also result in a second round of arrest warrants.
El Ingeniero is suspected of masterminding a serious of abductions perpetrated of January 4th, February 2nd and 4th, and September 2nd in Tijuana.
However, despite this flurry of action there hasn't been any information made public about those particualr incidents. As well, there were no photographs identifying him as a leader of the cartel or even wanted posters in the streets or on billboards in California,Baja California, and the rest of the Mexican republic.
Neither Mexico, nor the United States have offered compensation for information leading to the arrest of El Ingeniero. It is also unknown if the Mexican government has alerted governments of other Latin-American countries to look for him in their own countries. Panama and Guatemala serves as a points of export; Peru, Ecuador and Columbia serve as the producers of the cocaine. The final set of charges are still being kept secret.
The name El Ingeniero appears in dozens of declarations as the head of a number of kidnapping and drug dealing cells who are at the service of the Arellano Felix Cartel in California and Baja California. These reports have been filed since 2006 without an official announcement from the authorities that they were seeking his capture.
- “...I was a member of the criminal organization known as the Cartel of the Arellano Felix brothers, commanded by Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias El Inge....”
- “El Ingeniero had the investigations stalled or closed for lack of evidence..”
- “El Ingeniero told me to kill them...the order was that they had to die before 7:00 p.m.
These are statements by protected witnesses who testified that Fernando Sanchez Arellano had given them orders to traffic drugs, kidnap, murder, and corrupt police officers. These incidents can be found in the files of penal case number 37/2010-VII. It also lists the names of 122 police officers who are accused of working with the cartel.
In all, “the Engineer” was implicated as the mastermind behind the crimes committed by people who swore they were his accomplices, but despite the testimony, no arrest warrant with the name of Fernando Sanchez Arellano appears in this file.
The documents that contain accusations against Sanchez Arellano are the same that accuse the police:
los oficios C1/C4/ZP/11820/08 y C1/C4/ZP/11822/08 del Centro Nacional de Planeación, Análisis e Información para el Combate a la Delincuencia; la averiguación previa número 54/04/201, del 15 de marzo del 2004, por el delito de homicidio. Y la causa penal 92/2009-II instruida en contra de Jorge García Simental o Teodoro García Simental alias “El Teo” o “Álamo Siete” o “Tres Letras” o “Tomatero” o “Rubén” o “Rojo”.
Y de la Procuraduría General de la República: AP/PGR/BC/TIJ/2022/06-MVIII, PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/143/2007, PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/217/2008, PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/521/2009, PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/342/2009 y PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/135/2010.
In November of 2009 after giving a detailed history as a double agent in the CAF El Pit made this comment about his criminal bosses:
“...I took advantage of the fact that Javier Arellano Felix already knew me. After some time and by putting in some good work I solidified my friendship with Javier Arellano Felix and with Arturo Villarreal, alias El Nalgon (big butt). Soon, they began giving me more responsibilities, such as the transportation of drugs and kidnapping. Since I produced good results, they gave me command of a cell of about 16 or 17 people...”
“...From that moment, I called the shots and I was the one who settled accounts with El Nalgon, who was my direct boss or I would speak with Javier Arellano Felix, and now that we were friends, I had gained his confidence. He then introduced me to Fernando Arellano Felix, alias El Ingeniero, El Alineador, El Ajustador, Fernandillo..”
“...and Javier told me 'When I'm not around, you are to take your orders from El Inge. That is how I began to work for Fernando. And since Javier spent a lot of time absent from Tijuana, El Ingeniero assumed control and leadership of the Arellano Felix organization.”
“In August of 2006, Arturo Villarreal, El Nalgon and Javier Arellano Felix were arrested in international waters and it was at this moment that there was a restructuring of the cartel. El Ingeniero stayed in power as the head of the cartel which bears his last name, although the exact details of his parents and kinship to the Arellano Felix family are not known..”
“I've heard from various members of the cartel that he is the son of Maria Alicia Arellano Felix. What El Ingeniero told me personally was that his uncles were Benjamin, Ramon, and Javier who all share the same last name.”
Ignacio Zazueta said he knew Sanchez very well because he had met him many times, face to face. When the media asked him to give details about Fernandillo, he said this:
“He's approximately 34 years old, about 1.6 meters in height, fair skinned with a clear complexion. He's good at making an entrance because he is dressed head to toe but up close, you can see he is starting to go bald, he has brown eyes, a wide mouth, a neatly trimmed beard, and thick eyebrows.”
“He has a muscular figure and he works out regularly. He used to be fat, but he has gotten his weight under control. He always looks pissed off, he is into sportswear and always wears a baseball cap, nothing ostentatious, no tattoos or visible scars. He walks bow-legged, with a wide stance...”
He also revealed who ordered the killings in “Mi Chante” in September of 2006, the murders of Alberto Navarrete and Ubina Lopez, members of the State Preventative Police dept, the incursion by armed men on the General Hospital of Tijuana on April 18th of 2007 and the deaths that resulted from that attack, as well as the assassination of agent Eduardo Reyes who as found dead in illegal drug retail outlet known as la Unidad Mixta de Atención on May 3rd 2006.
Gilberto Sanchez, El Gil made this statement:
“...Actually, there was a war between Teodoro Garcia Simental, alias El Teo or Las Tres Letras (the three letters) and the one known as El Ingeniero. They (Fernando Sanchez's people) stole about 300 pounds of methamphetamine from El Teo's men, this added insult to injury because one of the men they robbed whose last name was Parra, would on occasion, stash vehicles for Muletas...”
Luis Ernesto Ramirez Vasquez, El Güero Camarón (the blond shrimp) also gave these statements when asked about the leadership of the Sanchez Arellano criminal organization:
“Jorge Quintero Colmenero works directly for Fernando Sanchez Arellano, El Ingeniero”
“Gilberto Fimbres Fimbres, alias El Calimax is the link between Fernando Sanchez Arellano and his people...”
“Javier Enrique Cardenas Salgado, alias El Junior in the connection between the cells of El Ingeniero and the municipal police...”
He also confirmed that El Guero Cameron used to be in that position until he was arrested in 2008.
There are four common-law apprehension orders in Baja California for Fernando Sanchez, none of them for homicide, all for kidnapping. He is mentioned as the head of these cells and the mastermind behind the abductions.
One of these abductions mentioned happened of January 4th 2010 to a man with the last name Guadalupe; this case is still under investigation. Another similar case concerns the abduction of a Mr. Rosales who was deprived of his liberty on February 14th of this year. Both of these operations were carried out by the same group of men who belong to a criminal cell headed by Juan Sillas, alias El Ruedas.
Jorge Ernesto Peñuelas Parra (jefe del grupo), César Guadalupe Peñuelas Cázarez, Julio César Peñuelas Juárez, Armando Molina Juárez y Andrés Pacheco Contreras, were all apprehended on Febuary 2nd of 2010.
They gave authorities information that lead to the arrest of other cell members Alejandro Espinoza Rodríguez y Édgar Antonio García Urquidi, who were arrested on September 2nd of 2010.
The reports from the office of the State Prosecutor shows that the authorities had been of the trail of the criminal group since July of 2009. According to the declarations, the cell had been operating in the area since 2007. Without hesitating, the seven detained men confessed to over 30 kidnappings but at the moment they have only been credited with 6.
This is the same group that kidnapped Diana Lopez, sister of El Muletas, and killed her boyfriend Tomas Alberto Rosales Cruz. However, there have been no prosecutions or arrest warrants issued for that particular homicide, not against Sanchez, not even against Sillas as the masterminds behind the crime.
Also not investigated was the murder of police officer Jose Luis Torrujos, who died during a confrontation on the 17th of October at the bridge of Fereico Benitez.
Ernesto Peñuelas Parra, along with Armando Valencia, Cristóbal Parra Tostado and Jaime Ramsés Quezada Pérez were the suspects apprehended near the scene. they were questioned but later released.
The file did not indicate the fact that these were the same men had been arrested a day earlier in a zone known as “El Vergel.” When the municipal police tried to ticket them for obstructing traffic, the men tried to bribe the officers. Instead of accepting the bribe, the officers arrested the men and took them before the local magistrate. At this time the group of men began threatening the lives of the officers and the magistrate, claiming that blood of dead cops would be on their hands. The custody of the men was turned over to the office of the Public Ministry who evidently released them.
Infighting surrounds the rise of Sanchez
Fernando Sanchez Arellano was presented to the cells of the CAF by his uncle Francisco Javier Arellano. The statements made by Efraín Pérez and Jorge Aureliano Félix after they had been detained by authorities indicated Fernando Sanchez has been active in the cartel since June of 2004 .
The version of the story as told by these informants indicate that between 2004 and 2006 Javier Arellano Felix, a.k.a. El Tigrillo, with the support of Fernando Sanchez, controlled sicarios and traffickers while operating under the supervision and financial backing of Enedina and Eduardo Arellano (arrested October 2008) with help from Manuel Aguirre Galindo, El Caballo (horse).
In August of 2006 when Javier Arellaon was arrested, El Ingeniero took his place at the head of the organization and informed his subordinates that he would be the one in charge from now on.
April of 2008. one of the operative cells of the CAF rebels against the authority of Sanchez, it is the one led by Teodor Garcia Simental. To further split apart from the rest of the organization Los Teos initiated a series of abductions that were “not authorized,” including people who were under the protection of Armando El Gordo Villarreal. They even disrespected their direct bosses by lying about their involvement in the kidnappings when questioned about the incidents.
Having been discovered, Los Teos refused to surrender and the first gun battle between the two groups erupted on April 26th. A bloody campaign began that day and it would last for the next to years with brief intervals of peace.
On the side of El Teo, the justification for the confrontation was the lack of authority of the part of El Ingeniero for failing to stop, or be complacent to, the invasion of their territories by rival cells who also robbed Los Teo's for drugs. There was a feeling among Los Teo's that the intent was to displace them.
January 8th of 2009 – After hundreds of homicides in Tijuana, the DEA recognized a cartel it considered the new CAF. Their leadership were considered as the most wanted men in the area, but offered no financial compensation in exchange for information leading to their capture.
On the hierarchy pyramid of DEA photographs, Fernando Sanchez is at the top, he is surrounded by portraits of other well known figures in the Tijuana cartel: Melvin Gutiérrez Quiroz, Fernando Ávila Valenzuela, Raymundo Corona Bartolomé, Armando Villarreal Heredia, Isaac Manuel Godoy Castro (arrested on the April 21rst of 2009), Manuel Ivanovich Zambrano-Flores, alias El Jimmy (captured on August 7th of 2009), José Filiberto Parra Ramos,alias La Perra (apprehended June 10th of 2009), Eduardo Teodoro García Simental, alias El Teo (apprehended January 12th 2010), and Raydel López Uriarte, alias El Muletas (arrested February 8th of 2010).
October 14th 2009 – the first apprehension order against Fernando Sanchez Arellano is issued.
The infighting of the CAF continued in 2009. That year the cells of El Teo decided to justify the wave of violence publicly. They did this by attaching messages on dozens of bodies left scattered. The first four were decapitated on the 15th of December. On those cadavers the image of a rat was found with the name El Ingeniero written across the front of it.
By the 16th the undisclosed FBI photograph of Sanchez was superimposed over the image of the rat and the words on it read: “I am a day laborer, I am a coward... I am not half the man my uncles were...”
Although the situation was “personal” it concluded with the capture of Raydel López and Teodoro García in January and February. The killings continued because of confrontations between the cells of Juan Sillas Rocha and those of Los Teos. Rocha was given the task of retaking the former CAF territories held by Los Teos and their respective cells.
July 23rd 2010 – the Federal Bureau of Investigations changes their name for the Tijuana cartel from the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) to the Fernando Sanchez Organization (FSO). They announced the arrest of four people in Mexico and 42 in the U.S. during “Operation Green Light” which was spearheaded by the FBI offices in the state of California, all of whom have alleged ties to the nephew of the Arellano's. Among those detained was Jesús Quiñones Márquez, director of international connections, and Rubén Darío Castro López, personal secretary to El Ingeniero.
Among the fugitives of the U.S. Government, arrest warrants were issued for Armando Villarreal Heredia El Gordo and Iván Candelario Magaña Heredia El Soldado. However, there were no charges brought againt El Ingeniero at that time.