Benjamín Arellano Félix

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Benjamín Arellano Félix
Benjamin Arrellano-Felix.jpg
Born (1952-03-12) March 12, 1952 (age 64)[1]
Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico
Other names El Min
Occupation Tijuana Cartel leader
Criminal charge Drug trafficking, money laundering, murder
Criminal penalty 25 years in a US federal prison + 22 years in a Mexican prison
Criminal status Arrested in March, 2002, due to be out by March, 2049

Benjamín Arellano Félix (born 12 March 1952[1]) is a Mexican drug trafficker and former leader of the Mexican criminal organization known as the Tijuana Cartel or 'Arellano-Félix Organization'.[2]


Benjamín Arellano, who worked closely with his brothers, was one of Mexico's most powerful drug lords and the supplier of a third of U.S.A.'s cocaine.[2] Benjamín had six brothers:[citation needed]

He also has four sisters, and Alicia and Enedina are most active in the cartel's affairs.[citation needed]

Benjamín was first arrested on June 18, 1982 in Downey, California for receiving 100 kilos of cocaine smuggled through the San Ysidro border, however, he escaped custody.[4] The Arellano Félix brothers obtained their first big break in 1989 when they inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo after they showed early promise smuggling consumer electronics over the border.[2] By 1998, the Arellano brothers had been indicted in the U.S. for drug trafficking and his brother Ramón was put on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.[citation needed]

Despite the brothers' audacity, they remained untouchable for 13 years. This was done, in part, with large amounts of cash, bribing Mexican politicians and police commanders, at the cost of an estimated $1m USD per week.[2][5]

Benjamín Arellano tried to clear his name after the 1993 murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, in which he had been implicated. That high-profile assassination brought international attention to his trafficking organization and though, this forced Benjamín to lie low and adopt false names, he continued to live in casual confidence, apparently unafraid of capture.[2] Another of Benjamin's brothers, Francisco, was arrested soon after on drug charges and Benjamín, Ramón and Javier officially became fugitives.[citation needed]

Kingpin Act sanction[edit]

On 1 June 2000, the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Benjamín under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (sometimes referred to simply as the "Kingpin Act"), for his involvement in drug trafficking along with eleven other international criminals.[6] The act prohibited U.S. citizens and companies from doing any kind of business activity with him, and virtually froze all his assets in the U.S.[7]


The U.S. DEA learned that Benjamín's oldest daughter had a very recognizable and rare facial deformity and that she was the "soft spot" in her father's violent life. By tracing her, they found her father.[5] Benjamin was arrested on March 9, 2002 by the Mexican Army in the state of Puebla, Mexico.[8] He had a $2 million USD bounty for his arrest.[5] Authorities are not sure where Arellano's money went, beyond some real estate investments in Tijuana. Mexican officials say it has been invested in U.S. real estate, while their U.S. counterparts say much of it is hidden in cash in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States in April 29, 2011 to face charges of trafficking cocaine into California.[9] On January 4, 2012 Benjamin Arellano Felix pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to launder money, and was sentenced to 25 years in jail on April 2, 2012.[10] Once that is served, he will be sent back to Mexico to finish another 22 years for a conviction there.[11]

Some objects that were confiscated from him during his arrests are on display at the Museo del Enervante in Mexico City.[12]

Popular Depictions[edit]

In Don Winslow's novel, The Power of the Dog, the character Adán Barrera is based on Benjamín Arellano Félix.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blocked Persons, Specially Designated Nationals, Specially Designated Terrorists, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers: Additional Designations and Removals and Supplementary Information on Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Department of the Treasury. Foreign Assets Control Office. Federal Register. 4 December 2000. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Julian Borger; Jo Tuckman (15 March 2002). "Blood brothers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  3. ^ Alexander, Harriet (20 October 2013). "Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix: Head of Tijuana Cartel shot dead by clown gunmen". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Members of the Arellano-Felix Organization
  5. ^ a b c How Officials Jolted a Cocaine Cartel ABC News, September 28, 2002.
  6. ^ "DESIGNATIONS PURSUANT TO THE FOREIGN NARCOTICS KINGPIN DESIGNATION ACT" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. 15 May 2014. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "An overview of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. 2009. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "DEA CONFIRMS CAPTURE OF BENJAMIN ARELLANO-FELIX". U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. March 9, 2002. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  9. ^ "Mexico home to record 1,400 drug-related deaths in April". Infosur Hoy. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-27.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  10. ^ "Mexican drug lord who smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. and dissolved enemies in vats of caustic soda gets 25 years in jail in plea bargain". Mail Online. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  11. ^ Which cartel is king in Mexico?
  12. ^