SAN DIEGO — One of four brothers who ran Tijuana’s notorious Arellano Felix drug cartel for nearly two decades was sentenced Monday in San Diego to 15 years in federal prison.
Eduardo Arellano Felix, 56, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to launder money and invest illicit drug proceeds. As part of his plea, the defendant agreed to forfeit up to $50 million in money and other assets obtained through illegal drug trafficking. Defense attorney Brian Funk said Arellano Felix has no assets.
“They were terrible effects … long-lasting effects,” the judge said. “And for that, you should be ashamed.”
Arellano Felix was extradited from Mexico to the United States last September.
The defendant and members of the AFO — led by his brother, Benjamin — agreed to import hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars from the drug trafficking operation, according to his plea agreement.
Arellano Felix admitted the drug profits were used to acquire weapons and bribe public officials.
The defendant, described as a “senior adviser” to Benjamin, was arrested in Tijuana in October 2008 following a gun battle with a Mexican Special Tactical Team.
Authorities said the AFO controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. The cartel terrorized the Southwest border and beyond with executions, torture, beheadings and kidnappings, prosecutors said.
Benjamin Arellano Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano Felix are currently serving sentences in the United States, where they were convicted of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering. An older brother, Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, was deported to Mexico after he served a six- year sentence for selling cocaine.
Burns granted a defense request to recommend to prison officials that Eduardo Arellano Felix be housed in Florida with Benjamin.
Story by Kelly Wheeler of City News Service