Photo: Fernando Sanchez Arellano
The suspected leader of the Tijuana drug cartel was arrested in northwestern Mexico, media reports said Tuesday.
Fernando Sanchez Arellano was captured on Monday in Tijuana, a border city located near San Diego, California.
Sanchez Arellano, known as “El Ingeniero” (The Engineer), was detained while watching the Mexico-Croatia World Cup match in Tijuana’s La Mesa district, Mexican media reported, citing state and federal officials.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified Fernando Sanchez Arellano in 2009 as a member of a “new generation” of bosses of the Arellano Felix criminal organization.
He is the nephew of Benjamin, Eduardo, Francisco Javier, Francisco Rafael and Ramon Arellano Felix, all of whom have been arrested or killed in recent years.
Benjamin Arellano was arrested in 2002 in Mexico and extradited nine years later to the United States, where he was wanted on drug charges.
The leadership of the cartel, which enjoyed a monopoly over the smuggling of drugs through Tijuana for more than 20 years, began to fall apart following the killing of Ramon Arellano Felix, the criminal organization’s top enforcer, in a shootout in Sinaloa state.
Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, one of the cartel’s other bosses, is serving a life sentence after being captured by the U.S. Coast Guard while fishing in 2006.
Eduardo Arellano Felix was arrested in October 2008 after a shootout with Tijuana police and extradited to the United States.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, who was arrested in Mexico in 1993 and extradited to the United States, was released from prison in 2008.
He was gunned down last October at a party in the resort city of Los Cabos.
Fernando Sanchez Arellano’s arrest comes amid a wave of violence in Tijuana, which is in the northwestern state of Baja California.