On Monday, Eduardo “The Doctor” Arellano Félix, the former leader of the Arellano Félix crime syndicate, was escorted over the United States border into Mexico and handed over to his country’s government. He served 13- of a 15-year drug trafficking sentence in the US and will continue to serve time in Mexico.
Arellano Félix opted not to enter a plea deal on Wednesday against the Mexican government’s trafficking charges. He is currently being held in the Estado de México federal prison Altiplano.
Officials have shared conflicting information about the fate of Arellano Félix. Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said earlier this month that Arellano Félix would not be deported from the US to Mexico due to a change in his detainee status.
But this week, Arellano Felix — the former chief financial officer of the cartel — was indeed deported and scooped up by the Mexican army and staff from the attorney general’s office at the Brownsville-Matamoros border crossing.
The Mexican government has overseen the release of several alleged organized crime leaders in recent years, from El Chapo’s son Ovidio Guzman (who was captured, then released when Mexican government forces were overwhelmed by cartel firepower in a Sinaloa shootout) to General Salvador Cienfuegos.
General Cienfuegos is the former secretary of defense. He was arrested by US authorities in October on charges of drug trafficking. Sources report that Cienfuegos is known as “The Godfather” by the cartel members with whom he worked. But five days after his arrest, the Mexican government decided the charges against Cienfuegos were trumped up, and the former general was released on his own recognizance. For some, the decision challenged President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s commitment to fighting government corruption.
Arellano Félix was arrested in Tijuana in 2008 after a shootout with Mexican law enforcement and a widely publicized search in which the United States government offered $5 million for information leading to his arrest. In 2012, he was extradited to the United States where he cooperated with federal authorities, who dropped five of his seven charges in return, leaving him to face up to 140-years in prison for money laundering and funding a criminal organization in a San Diego court. (Again, he only served 13-years in an Allenwood, Pennsylvania federal prison.)
Although the Arellano Félix cartel trafficked hundreds of tons of cocaine and cannabis, and made Tijuana exceptionally violent in the 1990s, the cartel (a.k.a. Tijuana cartel) no longer holds much power in Mexico. Arellano Felix is also not the only member of this criminal organization who’s gone to jail — in fact, he was the last of his brothers to be sentenced. Benjamin Arellano Félix and Francisco Javier, both Eduardo’s biological brothers, are serving time. The former is facing a life sentence.
One of the only Félix Arellano siblings who remains at large is 60-year-old sister Enedina (a.k.a. “La Narcomami,”) who has kept a low profile despite having been one of the most powerful women in Mexican organized crime at one point in time.