Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

AFO (CAF) Leader Benjamin Arellano Gets 25 Years in Prison

Monday, April 2, 2012 |

BENJAMIN ARELLANO-FELIX GETS 25 YEARS IN PRISON;
Full Text of DEA Release follows first news post....Paz, Chivis

SAN DIEGO — Late last year, a strange scene unfolded several times a week on the roof of the private federal jail at the corner of Front and C streets in downtown San Diego.

There, sometime between midnight and 3 a.m., a stocky, 5-foot 10-inch man under heavy guard walked about the roof, breathing the night air and gazing at the stars above while most of the city slept.

For security reasons, the times he took his hourlong exercise were never the same two nights in a row.

FILE - In this March 9, 2002 file photo released by Mexico's Attorney General's Office, Benjamin Arellano Felix stands in his home the day of his arrest in Puebla, Mexico.

Arellano Felix will plead guilty to unspecified charges, the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego said Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. Spokeswoman Debra Hartman said she could not elaborate in advance of the filing. Arellano Felix is expected in federal court Wednesday afternoon. Arellano Felix headed a once-mighty cartel that came to power in Tijuana, Mexico, in the late 1980s. (AP Photo) — AP

The inmate was Benjamin Arellano Félix, once the feared leader of a Tijuana drug cartel that bore his family’s name.

Today, the 58-year-old Arellano will again be under heavy guard, this time inside a downtown federal courtroom for his formal sentencing. He will likely be sent to a super maximum security prison for 25 years — the term his defense lawyers and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego have agreed to under a plea bargain.

The hearing will be historic, marking the end of one era in the drug war, said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego.

At one time, the Arellano Félix Organization was “the most feared and by some accounts most powerful criminal organization in Mexico,” Shirk said.

“And Benjamin was the face of that organization. In some ways this is the closure of a chapter in the drug war in Mexico,” he said. “That’s a book that is still being written, however.”

For years, U.S. authorities pursued Arellano and others in his cartel. In January, he finally pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering conspiracy charges.

He admitted being the leader of the organization that smuggled untold tons of drugs into the U.S., bribed and corrupted scores of public officials in Mexico, and controlled the cartel’s turf through kidnappings and murders.

It was a lucrative trade over the years. Part of the plea agreement calls for Arellano to forfeit $100 million in profits, probably a symbolic figure for a man who has been jailed for a decade in Mexico and the U.S.

The AFO came to power in the 1980s and distinguished itself with a ruthless brand of enforcement on a scale that had not been seen before among drug gangs in Mexico, said Peter Nuñez, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego.

“They racheted it up, no question about it,” said Nuñez. “They were game-changers.”

The cartel had caches of sophisticated automatic weapons it purchased from the U.S. and other countries, recruited street gang members for violent missions, and carried out targeted assassinations of rivals who threatened the AFO’s turf.

One mission in 1993 that used San Diego street gang members was meant to kill a rival cartel leader at the Guadalajara airport but ended in a violent shootout that killed Roman Catholic Cardinal Posadas Ocampo.

That kind of brazen violence was something largely introduced by the AFO, said Nuñez, and continues today.“Other cartels tried to adopt the same strategy,” he said. “You had this escalation.
AFN Photo

Source: UT San Diego
Read full article here
AFO Leader Gets 25 Years in Prison

San Diego, CA – DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart today announced that Benjamin Arellano-Felix, nearly 60, the former leader of the Tijuana Cartel/Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in San Diego by the Honorable Larry A. Burns to serve 25 years in federal prison. Judge Burns also ordered Arellano-Felix to forfeit $100 million in criminal proceeds. The sentence followed Arellano-Felix’s conviction for racketeering and money laundering.

“The Tijuana Cartel was one of the world’s most brutal drug trafficking networks, but has now met its demise with leader Benjamin Arellano-Felix’s sentencingtoday,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “It is a major victory for DEA and Mexico’s Calderon Administration. Together, we will continue our pressure on the Mexican Cartels whose leaders,members and facilitators will be prosecuted and face the justice they fear.”

“Today’s prison sentence virtually ensures that Arellano-Felix will spend the remainder of his life in custody. Following this sentence, he will be deported to Mexico to finish a 22-year sentence. This is a fitting end for a person who has caused so much suffering and destruction,” commented United States Attorney Duffy.

Duffy heralded the sentence as a landmark achievement in the United States and Mexico’s joint effort to dismantle drug cartels operating on both sides of

the border and stated that “Attorney General Eric Holder and Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales are pleased with today’s result and that this defendant has finally been held accountable for his crimes. Today’s sentence, together with what remains of his sentence in Mexico, will go a longway in ensuring that Arellano Felix spends his remaining years in prison.”
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Long-reputed to be one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations to ever exist, the AFO controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States.

Its operations also extended into southern Mexico and Colombia. Arellano-Felix was taken into custody by Mexican authorities on March 9, 2002. A final order of extradition to the United States was granted in 2007 and after years of unsuccessful appeals, Arellano-Felix arrived in the U.S. on April 29, 2011, to face charges in the Southern District of California for narcotics trafficking, money laundering and organized crime-related offenses. On January 4, 2012, he entered his guilty pleas before Judge Burns.

San Diego FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum commented, “Today's sentencing marks the end of Mr. Arellano-Felix's reign as the leader of one of the most dangerous drug and organized crime organizations our agencies have ever investigated. While there is still much work to do, it is particularly noteworthy that this culmination would not have been possible without the cumulative efforts of law enforcement on both sides of the border. We are pleased to stand united against the violence brought forth by the AFO and see this individual brought to justice.”

“The money laundering investigation conducted by IRS Special Agents contributed to the dismantling of one of the most notorious and violent drug cartels in Mexico,” commented Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field

Office. “Today’s sentencing is further evidence of the successful partnership that IRS Criminal Investigation has with other law enforcement agencies by using our financial expertise to unravel the money laundering component of this multi-national drug-trafficking organization.”

According to court records and the defendant’s admissions, Arellano-Felix was the leader of the AFO from approximately 1986 to until his arrest on March 9, 2002. During that time, Arellano-Felix served as the ultimate decision-maker for the AFO. Arellano-Felix issued directives to other members of the AFO, including his brothers, Ramon, Eduardo, and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, as well as his top lieutenants and drug-trafficking partners.

Arellano-Felix and other AFO members conspired to import and distribute within the United States hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana, for which the AFO obtained hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars in profits.

At Arellano-Felix’s direction, members of the AFO kidnaped, physically restrained and murdered numerous persons in furtherance of the AFO's illegal activities. Also at Arellano-Felix’s direction, members of the AFO bribed law enforcement and military personnel, and murdered informants and potential witnesses in order to obstruct or impede the official investigation of their activities.

Arellano-Felix conspired with other members of the AFO to launder proceeds of the above drug trafficking activities by directing other members to transport, transmit, and transfer hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars from the United States to Mexico.

This case was investigated by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and prosecuted in the Southern District of California by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Green, JamesMelendres, and Daniel Zipp.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition. The investigation was coordinated by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and coordinate all law enforcement resources in this country's battle against major drug trafficking rings, drug kingpins, and money launderers.

“The Tijuana Cartel was one of the world’s most brutal drug trafficking networks, but has now met its demise with leader Benjamin Arellano-Felix’s sentencing today,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “It is a major victory for DEA and Mexico’s Calderon Administration.

Together, we will continue our pressure on the Mexican Cartels whose leaders, members and facilitators will be prosecuted and face the justice they fear.” “Today’s prison sentence virtually ensures that Arellano-Felix will spend the remainder of his life in custody. Following this sentence, he will be deported to Mexico to finish a 22-year sentence.

This is a fitting end for a person who has caused so much suffering and destruction,” commented United States Attorney Duffy. Duffy heralded the sentence as a landmark achievement in the United States and Mexico’s joint effort to dismantle drug cartels operating on both sides of the border and stated that “Attorney General Eric Holder and Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales are pleased with today’s result and that this defendant has finally been held accountable for his crimes. Today’s sentence, together with what remains of his sentence in Mexico, will go a long way in ensuring that Arellano Felix spends his remaining years in prison.”

Long-reputed to be one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations to ever exist, the AFO controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. Its operations also extended into southern Mexico and Colombia. Arellano-Felix was taken into custody by Mexican authorities on March 9, 2002.

A final order of extradition to the United States was granted in 2007 and after years of unsuccessful appeals, Arellano-Felix arrived in the U.S. on April 29, 2011, to face charges in the Southern District of California for narcotics trafficking, money laundering and organized crime-related offenses. On January 4, 2012, he entered his guilty pleas before Judge Burns.

San Diego FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum commented, “Today's sentencing marks the end of Mr. Arellano-Felix's reign as the leader of one of the most dangerous drug and organized crime organizations our agencies have ever investigated. While there is still much work to do, it is particularly noteworthy that this culmination would not have been possible without the cumulative efforts of law enforcement on both sides of the border. We are pleased to stand united against the violence brought forth by the AFO and see this individual brought to justice.”

“The money laundering investigation conducted by IRS Special Agents contributed to the dismantling of one of the most notorious and violent drug cartels in Mexico,” commented Leslie P.DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office. “Today’s sentencing is further evidence of the successful partnership that IRS Criminal Investigation has with other law enforcement agencies by using our financial expertise to unravel the money laundering component of this multi-national drug-trafficking organization.”

According to court records and the defendant’s admissions, Arellano-Felix was the leaderof the AFO from approximately 1986 to until his arrest on March 9, 2002. During that time, Arellano-Felix served as the ultimate decision-maker for the AFO. Arellano-Felix issued directives to other members of the AFO, including his brothers, Ramon, Eduardo, and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, as well as his top lieutenants and drug-trafficking partners.

Arellano-Felix and other AFO members conspired to import and distribute within the United States hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana, for which the AFO obtained hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars in profits.

At Arellano-Felix’s direction, members of the AFO kidnaped, physically restrained and murdered numerous persons in furtherance of the AFO's illegal activities. Also atArellano-Felix’s direction, members of the AFO bribed law enforcement and military personnel, andmurdered informants and potential witnesses in order to obstruct or impede the official investigationof their activities.

Arellano-Felix conspired with other members of the AFO to launder proceedsof the above drug trafficking activities by directing other members to transport, transmit, andtransfer hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars from the United States to Mexico.

This case was investigated by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and prosecutedin the Southern District of California by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Green, JamesMelendres, and Daniel Zipp. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs providedsignificant assistance in the extradition. The investigation was coordinated by an Organized Crime.

Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was created to consolidate andcoordinate all law enforcement resources in this country's battle against major drug trafficking rings,drug kingpins, and money launderers.

DEA NOTICE:

Source: DEA Press Release

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39 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

The Death and Destruction this supposed"Human Being" brought onto the Drug and Death scene is
absolutely unimaginable to most people.For aver 10 years this guy and his "Clan" brought Hell On Earth and in some ways still is, since a purported "Nephew" of his is still runnin a fraction of it still to this day..! He and his hermano "Ramone" and their "Fucken Punta" of an Uncle decided that human beings were highly expendable as long as they were the ones doing the killing and their family wasn't harmed. The made Baja Californian "Hell On Earth" Literely!!

Scoop said...

The government is once again breaking their arm patting themselves on the back. 25 years for the list of crimes and human suffering is hardly a victory. I doubt the 100 million dollars will be forfeited unless they had ceased accounts during the irs money laundering investigation. In 15 years he'll be back im MX at which point El Chapo will return the favor for the falled hit that led to his capture in Guatemala.

Anonymous said...

aww let him go he's learned his lesson

Anonymous said...

Y ayer era puro jaja. Responsible for hundreds of deaths he got off easy. NEXT!!!! to all u gueyes that criticize the Mexican justice system what u think about that sentence? He will be out in time to train the next PENDEJO that will be sending TONS cocaine to your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

good bye bad man..25 years..in a supermax...25 years no hope of escape..ever..nothing but time

J said...

I feel sorry for Benjamin, I know, it's just looking at a 58 year old man, whose run ended 10 years ago, who is going to die in prison. It's a little comical the security measures they were taking with him, the rooftop exercise and everything, what did they think was going to happen? They had him in the Federal court like he was going to be broken out by thirty gunmen. Ridiculous. I wonder if he is praying for his nephew.

Anonymous said...

He looks pissed....

Anonymous said...

Death penalty sounds good

Chivis said...

Sorry folks I am unable to fix the cut off of the right margin at this time. I ask for your patience.

thanks!

Anonymous said...

@April 2, 2012 4:19 PM

It's OK! I was just wondering is just me.

Thanks for the article!

Anonymous said...

Lets take a look at and see if its worth being a boss of a cartel, first u kill to make ur millions and then u and urs live the good life,second u get into fueds with other rivals and da government wants more plaza money,third u start getting bad press and the dea puts u in their most wanted list, fourth da gov turns on u for being to hot,fifth u have family members murdered or incarcerated by either rival and or gov,sixth u realize u have traitors amongst u and informants seventh ur paronoid and on da run,eith u get turned in by a snitch or get caught by gov ninth ur jailed and ur organization is a mess with many falling to ur rivals while ur in jail,and tenth ur finally extradited to usa where u do 25 to life with no hope of escape or seein freedom again for the rest of ur life, is it worth it no its not

. said...

Pinche Bejamin! Chapo and Lazcano, You Two are NEXT! The wheels of Justice Never Stop.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:59 He won't die in prison probably, that's why he took the deal. With time served he could be out before he's seventy. If he does the whole sentence he'll be out at 72. Remember he's already been in jail 10 years, all sentences are concurrent.
Also the security may be for his protection. There are a ton of people who would die happy having murked that fuck.

Anonymous said...

Big show lots of fed $ ,our $ pissed off, we need a much more efficient method of disposing of our trash, Mexicos trash etc. The plea bargains of fed. are weak the Fed is weak lazy overpaid beauro shits, COWBOY UP kick hell out of these turds in STATE COURT!!

Anonymous said...

April 2, 2012 4:28 PM !!

Amazing! Reading that just make me think of the notorious La barbie. To be honest I used to think the guy was a badass. I would see the picture of him in the club with the nice watch and some ladies around, hear stories about him buying out the bar and being so feared- a whole fleet of gunmen to protect him. But as I read the news reports and grew older I saw how fucked up it really was. Constantly being on the run, watching people all around you die, and eventually becoming more and more paranoid. Well this is all going on you are deeply haunted by the personal demons that now consume your head. You are a killer, a savage one. And one day it dawns on you- you are a walking deadman. Life in prison or a bullet in the head, that's all this industry will give you.
I'm glad I have grown up a little bit and seen how truly terrible these people really are. Rot in hell barbie, chapo, fucking Lazcano,el H, and who ever the fuck is running the CDG.

Anonymous said...

From the first photo taken on the day of his arrest to the latest he sure has aged a lot. Those 10 years must have been hard on him. Good, he deserves it.
dd

J said...

He'll do 85% of his sentence in the US, at a minimum, he'll be out when he is in his early 80's, then back to Mexico, to finish his original 22 year sentence there. He will very likely die in prison.

Anonymous said...

If he has enemies he can easily be touched. look at what happened to Gotti in a federal max. US federal prisons are no joke

Anonymous said...

Gotti? He ain't shit never was compared to this HEAVY ROLLERS gotti would be scared to fuck wit this psicopats.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this right our tax $ is gonna b paying to keep this asshole alive for the next 25 years I hope the info they got was worth it cuz a bullet woulda been sufficient for me

Anonymous said...

J why you haven't post it news about Tijuana? Francisco Heredia López was arrested on the 26 of last month and no one said anything.

Francisco Heredia López is the cousin of Arturo Villarreal Heredia “El Nalgón”.

Anonymous said...

Jaja he is getting deported to Mexico to do 20 years then back to da usa to do time any body seeing an escape got to love it jajaja

Chivis said...

Thanks everyone for your patience yesterday. My computer was jacked up but I wanted to post the breaking story before my IT guy shut me down. Thanks again...

to the person asking about J:

We are volunteers so sometimes life gets in the way and we miss a story. If you have one send to us, and a link if you have one and one of us will surely take notice of it and look into it..
I have done a few posts based on what readers have suggested..you can write any of us via the blog and then we will write you back from our email. always anonymous.

as for our money keeping Benjamin for 25 years, it is money well spent. Look at the big picture folks, the powerful cartel crumbled in large part because of the disruption of the organization. we can't have it both ways, money to defend against or coop up the bad guys. I think putting the bad guy in US prison is money well spent. opposed to putting drug users in prison for being junkies....imo

DD he sure has aged, I am guessing there is a health issue involved he just does not look right. My guess is he will never make it to Mexico...Paz, Buela

Anonymous said...

El Universal reported today he is being returned to Mexico to do his remaining 22 year sentence there first. He will then face the 25 year sentence he received yesterday here with the credit for the time he was in custody here from date of extradition to date of return to Mexico. This is a little unusual. I do not recall another case being handled like this.

J said...

I saw that about Lopez Heredia, I just kind of passed over it, I usually do stories that are too compelling (to me) not to post, stuff I'm just dying to talk to others about, Heredia, I thought about a post, but the guy was caught with two kilos of ice in Tecate, in a 2003 truck, with very little interest, a handful of members from that family have been apprehended in the last few years, he definitely wasn't in the kind of position his cousins were. Everything Chivis said is def. true and applicable too.

DFL said...

HA!HA!HA!!LOLOLOLOL!!!
What came around went around. Sorry motherfucker. Rot in your Super max Hell Bitch!!!LOLOLOL!!!

Anonymous said...

I,m reading all your comments,you know why he has aged so much?Because that is what prison doe's to you.You may not believe it,but the underlying stress you are under every day will kill you.Hair turns grey,or starts falling out,your teeth and gums take a dive,your skin complexion,always alert never relaxed in case you have got to use extreme violence,man,that shit ages you big time.It is prison man,sometimes locked up 23 hours a day,with wash breaks,association,shower,that's it baby.It's a baptism of fire,could you all survive it?Locked up is locked up.

Anonymous said...

@ april 3 2012 if that is true that is big news, he can still have alot of influence from a mexican prison. thats an amazing deal he got

Anonymous said...

USA is the only one keeping the money. That why they want mexico to send them to america

J said...

The 100 million forfeiture is a formality, Benjamin probably doesn't have 1 million now. Any money he had was seized from him, when he was arrested in 2002. Like Chivis said, I doubt he'll live to see Mexico again, and El Min hasn't been running anything since 2002, I doubt he is wanted or qualified for that position, this is a whole new world.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully BENJAMIN escapes and kills CHAPUTO, and once again rises up like the 80's and 90's....

Anonymous said...

Mexico..! Wake up and tell Mexico City that this is what we Need!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgKMd1m0K3o

danny car said...

I wonder if he had anything to do with the underground tunnels from Mexico leading to san Diego....that's a brilliant way to smuggle tons of dope to the u.s..

Anonymous said...

Laura Duffy and her "puppet prosecution team" are weak and just "set the bar" for maximum terms for mass-murderes and narco-terrorists. She put up her middle finger and spat in the face of every victim and cop terrorized by this animal. What weak crap!!!

The Truth

Anonymous said...

@April 3, 2012 7:39 PM
You want blackwater for this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN0udPRnd2M&feature=g-user-u&context=G264191eUCGXQYbcTJ33YYITLA9E6MVgPYCg-QpsNAq_y4vmoek-k

Anonymous said...

Fuck Blackwater and the fuckin truck they rode in on.Blackwater,for fucks sake.
Private contractors,don't get caught slippin what ever you do.

Anonymous said...

"Lets take a look at and see if its worth being a boss of a cartel" mostly of times it is, because not all of the bosses have the same fate as you wrote, some are free like 30 years or more..

michael hernandez said...

they will never stop that game no matter how much u all hate u r not the only ones who deserve to live in wealth and if the demand wasnt so high their would not be a drug trade

michael hernandez said...

this wont change a thing as long as their is a demand for it here it will continue they will adapt from their mistakes they have before and they will again i guess no one new how good we had it when caro quintero , miguel felix gallardo , neto fonseca lead the cartels in releative peace hahaha thats what happens when u fuck wit shit

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