Benjamín Arellano Félix

Wikipedia:Citation needed Enrique Plancarte Solís Servando Gómez Martínez
Benjamín Arellano Félix
Benjamin Arrellano-Felix.jpg
Born (1952-03-12) March 12, 1952 (age 68)[1]
Other namesEl Min
OccupationTijuana Cartel founder and leader
Criminal statusArrested in March, 2002, due to be released on September 12, 2032.
Conviction(s)Found Guilty
Criminal chargeDrug trafficking, money laundering, murder
Penalty25 years in a US federal prison

Benjamín Arellano Félix (born 12 March 1952[1]) is a former Mexican drug lord who founded and led the Tijuana Cartel or "Arellano-Félix Organization” until his arrest in March 2002.[2]


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

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

Benjamín was first arrested on 18 June 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 U.S.–Mexico border.[2] By 1998, the Arellano brothers had been indicted in the U.S. for drug trafficking, and Ramón had been put on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.[citation needed]

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

Benjamín Arellano tried to clear his name after the 1993 murder of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, in which he had been implicated. That high-profile assassination brought international attention to his trafficking organization and, although this forced Benjamín to lie low and adopt false names, he continued to live in casual confidence, apparently unafraid of capture.[2] He had a secret meeting with the Apostolic Nunciature to Mexico, Girolamo Prigione on December 1, 1993.[6] Another of Benjamin's brothers, Francisco, was arrested soon afterward on drug charges, and Benjamín, Ramón, and Javier officially became fugitives.[citation needed]

Kingpin Act sanction

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.[7] 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.[8]


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 9 March 2002 by the Mexican Army in the state of Puebla, Mexico.[9] He had a US$2 million bounty for his arrest.[5]

Authorities are not sure where Benjamin'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.

Benjamin was extradited to the United States in 29 April 2011 to face charges of trafficking cocaine into California.[10] On January 4, 2012 he pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to launder money, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison on 2 April 2012.[11][12]

Some objects that were confiscated from him during his arrests are on display at the Museo del Enervante in Mexico City.[13]

He is currently incarcerated at USP Lee.[14]

In popular culture

In the 2017 Netflix and Univision series, El Chapo, Carlos Hernán Romo plays Benjamín Avendaño (a fictionalized portrayal of Benjamín Arellano Félix).

He is portrayed by Alfonso Dosal in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico.

A 2003 Mexican film, "El fin de los Arellano" ("The End of the Arellanos"), featured characters supposedly based on the Arellano brothers; however, its plot bore practically no resemblance to the actual events.

The Arellano brothers were allegedly an inspiration for the two secondary characters of "the Obregón brothers", featured in the 2000 US film "Traffic".

See also


  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. ^ "The Business – Arellano-Felix Cartel – Drug Wars". Frontline. PBS. Archived from the original on 2012-11-13.
  5. ^ a b c "How Officials Jolted a Cocaine Cartel". Nightline. ABC News. September 28, 2002.
  6. ^ Fallece sacerdote que reunió a los Arellano Felix con Prigione [Priest who arranged renunion of Arellano-Felix brothers and Prigione dies] (in Spanish), Proceso, January 13, 2010, retrieved June 1, 2019
  7. ^ "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 14 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "DEA CONFIRMS CAPTURE OF BENJAMIN ARELLANO-FELIX". U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. March 9, 2002. Archived from the original on August 9, 2012. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  10. ^ Fieser, Ezra (4 May 2011). "Mexico home to record 1,400 drug-related deaths in April". Infosur Hoy. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
  11. ^ Gilani, Nadia (5 January 2012). "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. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  12. ^ "Which cartel is king in Mexico?".
  13. ^ Unidad Editorial. "El museo del narco mexicano". El Mundo.
  14. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator ID:00678-748". US Department of Justice. Retrieved 29 July 2018.