06/24/14 (written by dpera) — Another leader of the Arellano Félix Organization (AFO) was arrested during the afternoon of June 23. Fernando Sánchez Arellano (35), also known as “El Ingeniero,” was allegedly the top leader in the Tijuana-based drug cartel. Sánchez is the nephew of the four Arellano brothers who started the organization, and by now each have been either captured or killed. Benjamín, Francisco Javier, and Eduardo Arellano Felix are all serving time in U.S. prisons, while their brother Ramón was killed in a 2002 shootout in Mexico. (See Justice in Mexico’s posts, Eduardo Arellano Felix Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison and Federal Police Capture Former Leader of Arellano Felix Organization, for more information.)
Reports vary on how El Ingeniero’s arrest played out. While some say that the arrest took place at his own home in Tijuana, others point to evidence that he was arrested at a Tijuana fast-food restaurant shortly after the Mexico vs. Croatia World Cup match. Sources say that El Ingeniero’s wife and son were there during the arrest, and that he was wearing a team shirt and had on face paint displaying Mexico’s red, white, and green colors. The suspect was soon transferred to Mexico City for holding following his arrest.
Since 2011, El Ingeniero has had a $30 million-peso ($2.3 million USD) reward on his head. Law enforcement officials have noted that “he is the last of the [Arellano Félix] bloodline that is truly involved” in the organization. While the AFO has seen numerous blows over the years, it is still known as a notably violent organization. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office said in 2013 that the AFO was a, “violent transnational racketeering enterprise controlled by Fernando Sanchez Arellano” that was responsible for multiple kidnappings, murders, assaults, robberies, cases of money laundering, and drug trafficking. This recent arrest is another blow to the declining cartel.