Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano

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Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano
Bornca. 1977[1]
Other namesEl Ingeniero,[2] El Alineador[3]
OccupationLeader of Tijuana Cartel
PredecessorEduardo Arellano Félix
Criminal statusArrested
Reward amount
Mexico: $30 million Mexican pesos;
US: US$5 million

Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano (b. ca. 1977),[1] commonly referred to by the alias El Ingeniero ("The Engineer"), is a Mexican suspected drug lord and former leader of the Tijuana Cartel,[4][5][6] a drug trafficking organization based in Tijuana, Baja California. He competed with three other major cartels, the Juárez Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel, for the illegal drug corridors into the United States.

The Tijuana Cartel (or Arellano Félix Organization) has been described as one of the biggest and most violent criminal groups in Mexico.[7] The Tijuana Cartel was initially composed of seven brothers and four sisters, who inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration in Mexico in 1989 for his complicity in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena.

Following the death or arrest of the Arellano Félix family members, and especially following the arrest of his uncle Eduardo Arellano Félix on October 25, 2008, Luis Fernando Sánchez took the cartel leadership, probably in partnership with his mother Enedina Arellano Félix.[6][8]

Sánchez Arellano lieutenants[edit]

On November 7, 2011 Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha, nicknamed El Sillas and La Rueda, was captured by the Mexican Army in the border city of Tijuana.[9] He was the second-in-command in the Tijuana cartel, and considered by Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional as "one of the most violent" drug traffickers in Mexico, responsible for a number of murders.[10] Sillas Rocha, under the tutelage of Sánchez Arellano, fought Teodoro García Simental (El Teo) for the control of the criminal activities in Tijuana between 2008 and 2010.[10] He is also accused of kidnapping three women who were relatives of Ismael Zambada García (El Mayo), a drug baron of the Sinaloa cartel.[10] Sillas Rocha was believed to be retaliating for the disappearance of his sister in 2010.[9]


The Attorney General of Mexico was offering a $30 million peso (US$2.5 million) bounty for information leading to his arrest.[6]


At around 16:00 local time on June 23, 2014,[11] Sánchez Arellano was arrested by soldiers of the Mexican Army and federal agents of the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR)[12][13] at a Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant in the Mesa de Otay borough in Tijuana, Baja California,[14] while watching the FIFA World Cup game between Mexico and Croatia. Sánchez Arellano was wearing the Mexico national team jersey and had the team's colors painted on his face.[15] The arrest was made without a single shot fired.[16] The security forces also confiscated US$100,000 he had with him at the moment of his arrest.[17]

The following day, he was transferred to the SEIDO installations, Mexico's organized crime investigatory agency, in Mexico City to give his statement and be interrogated by law enforcement.[18][19] The Mexican government accused Sánchez Arellano of being involved in organized crime, drug trafficking, and of violating Mexico's Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives.[20] Authorities also believed he was responsible for several extortions, kidnappings, and homicides in the Baja California municipalities of Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Tecate and Ensenada.[21]

On 25 June 2014, the PGR's Agency of Criminal Investigation (Spanish: Agencia de Investigación Criminal) officially confirmed the identity of Sánchez Arellano using DNA testing and photograph comparisons. The agency used the DNA samples the government had on its database of his relatives who were also involved in organized crime: his uncles Ramón, Benjamín, and Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, along with his alleged mother Enedina.[22][23] The results showed that Sánchez Arellano is biologically related to them and the Arellano Félix crime family, as initially presumed by law enforcement. In addition, the agency used at least five photographs law enforcement had of Sánchez Arellano to confirm similarities in its facial features.[A 1] The images analyzed corresponded to one that circulated on the Internet, one that was from an I.D. card the drug lord took at Sam's Club under the alias Fernando Canalles Villanueva, one from his Baja California driver's license under the name Fernando Canales Villanueva,[25] one from his passport under the name Fernando Canales Villanueva,[26][27] one from the DEA's database, and the one taken during his arrest.[25][28]

Imprisonment and trial[edit]

On 27 June 2014, Sánchez Arellano was transferred to the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 (also known as "Altiplano") maximum-security prison in Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico.[29] The imprisonment was allowed after a federal court found sufficient evidence against him.[30] Three days later, a federal court in Toluca sent his trial to motion for his alleged criminal activities.[31]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The PGR had another photograph of Sánchez Arellano on their most-wanted files that was not actually his. In 2011, they confirmed that the man in the picture was Raúl Inda González, an engineer from Ensenada, Baja California uninvolved with the Tijuana Cartel.[24]


  1. ^ a b El discípulo de los Arellano Félix. La Policiaca. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  2. ^ Top 10 Notorious Mexican Drug Lords: Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano. By Ioan Grillo. TIME. June 22, 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  3. ^ El discípulo de los Arellano Félix. La Policiaca. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Mexico seizes top drugs suspect". BBC News. October 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  5. ^ Luis Ramirez Vazquez Archived 2010-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c "El discípulo de los Arellano Féli". La Policiaca (in Spanish). 4 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  7. ^ Steller, Tim (15 April 1998). "Mexican drug runners may have used C-130 from Arizona". The Arizona Daily Star. Archived at California State University Northridge. Archived from the original on 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  8. ^ "New Arellano Felix cartel leaders". Justice in Mexico. December 4, 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  9. ^ a b Castillo, Eduardo E. (7 November 2011). "Juan Fransisco Sillas Rocha, Key Figure Mexico Drug Cartel, Caught". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Detienen a Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha 'El Sillas', lugarteniente de los Arellano Félix". Univision (in Spanish). 7 November 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Fernando Sánchez Arellano: 12 años operando en Tijuana antes de su captura" (in Spanish). CNNMéxico. Turner Broadcasting System. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Suponen detención de Fernando Sánchez Arellano 'El Ingeniero'" (in Spanish). Zeta. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  13. ^ Mosso, Rubén (24 June 2014). "Ejército detiene a uno de los Arellano Félix" (in Spanish). Milenio. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  14. ^ Otero, Silvia (25 June 2014). ""El Ingeniero" disfrutaba goles del Tri cuando fue detenido" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  15. ^ Dibble, Sandra (23 June 2014). "Arellano drug gang leader captured in TJ". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  16. ^ Quiroz, Carlos (24 June 2014). "Sin un solo disparo fue detenido 'El Ingeniero', confirma Rubido" (in Spanish). Excélsior. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  17. ^ Muedano, Marcos (24 June 2014). "Confirma gobierno federal detención de El Ingeniero" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  18. ^ Domínguez, Roberto (24 June 2014). "El Ingeniero declara en la SEIDO desde la madrugada" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Azteca Noticias. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  19. ^ Martínez, Gabriel (24 June 2014). "Llevan a la SEIDO al líder del cártel de Tijuana" (in Spanish). Milenio. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  20. ^ Otero, Silvia (24 June 2014). "Imputan 3 cargos al Ingeniero; declara en SEIDO" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Detienen sin disparos a El Ingeniero" (in Spanish). Zócalo Saltillo. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Documento: Confirman detención de 'El Ingeniero', líder de los Arellano Félix" (in Spanish). Aristegui Noticias. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  23. ^ Méndez, Alfredo (25 June 2014). "Difunde PGR dictámenes periciales que confirman identidad de 'El Ingeniero'" (in Spanish). La Jornada. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  24. ^ Lamas, Lorena (24 June 2014). "Raúl, el hombre al que la PGR confundió con el 'El Ingeniero'" (in Spanish). Milenio. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Sí es 'El Ingeniero', confirma PGR" (in Spanish). Milenio. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  26. ^ "Con ADN confirman identidad de El Ingeniero" (in Spanish). Excélsior. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  27. ^ Navarro Bello, Adela (25 June 2014). "Arellano: la restitución para la detención" (in Spanish). Zeta. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  28. ^ Otero, Silvia (25 June 2014). "Peritaje de PGR confirma identidad de El Ingeniero" (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Universal (Mexico City). Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  29. ^ "Ingresa capo a penal del Altiplano" (in Spanish). El Siglo de Torreón. 29 June 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  30. ^ López, Mario (29 June 2014). "Ingresan al penal del Altiplano a 'El Ingeniero'" (in Spanish). Televisa. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  31. ^ "Dicta juez, auto de formal prisión a Fernando Sánchez Arellano, (a) "El Ingeniero"" (in Spanish). La Prensa. Organización Editorial Mexicana. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.