Beginning of the End for Arellano-Felix Trafficking Organization (2000-2002)
The Arellano Felix Organization (AFO), often referred to as the Tijuana Cartel, was considered one of the most powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. At the height of its power, the AFO was responsible for the transportation, importation, and distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico--primarily from Tijuana into San Diego and Los Angeles.
During this time, DEA offices in Mexico and the United States, most notably Tijuana, San Diego, and Los Angeles, relentlessly pursued the principal members of this organization in an effort to bring about their downfall. The most prominent members of the AFO were brothers Benjamin, Eduardo, Ramon, and Francisco Javier Arellano Felix; Ismael Higuera Guerrero; Jesus Labra Aviles; Manuel Aguirre Galindo; and Ismael Higuera Guerrero. Jesus Labra Aviles, long considered the financial mastermind of the organization, was arrested in Mexico City in March 2000 by the Mexican Military with the support of DEA's Tijuana office, which ensured he was not released. This was followed by the arrest of major AFO Lieutenant Ismael Higuera-Guerrero two months later in May 2000. He, too, was arrested by the Mexican Military in coordination with DEA's Tijuana office. Guerrero had been the most overt member of the AFO directing operations in Tijuana for years.
At the beginning of 2002, AFO was dealt two huge blows. First, with the death of its infamous and brutal enforcer and assassin Ramon Arellano Felix in a street fight with drug trafficking competitors and Mexican police. Then, a month later, the AFO's overall Chief of Operations, Benjamin Arellano-Felix, was arrested in Puebla, Mexico, by the Mexican Military.