Notorious Mexican Drug Kingpin sentenced to life in Federal Prison

Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, the former leader of the deadly drug trafficking Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO), was sentenced to
serve life in prison, the Department of Justice announced today.

At the sentencing hearing at federal court in San Diego today, U.S.
District Judge Larry A. Burns also ordered Arellano-Felix, 37, to
forfeit $50 million and his interest in a yacht, the Dock Holiday.

Arellano-Felix’s sentence follows his September 2007 guilty plea to
operating a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiring to launder
monetary instruments. According to court documents, since the
1980s, the AFO has controlled narcotics trafficking through the
Tijuana and Mexicali corridors adjacent to the southern United
States border with Mexico. As part of his guilty plea, Arellano-Felix
admitted that, until his arrest, he was a principal administrator of the
AFO. During that time, the AFO distributed indeterminable amounts
of cocaine and marijuana, exceeding hundreds of tons.

Arellano-Felix admitted murdering and participating in and directing
the murders of numerous persons in furtherance of the AFO’s
activities. He also admitted that he and other AFO members
repeatedly and willfully obstructed and impeded the investigation
and prosecution of AFO activities by paying millions of dollars in
bribes to law enforcement and military personnel, murdering
informants and potential witnesses, and murdering law enforcement
personnel. AFO members also routinely wiretapped rival drug
traffickers and Mexican law enforcement officials; impersonated
Mexican military and law enforcement officials; trained assassination
squads; “taxed” individuals seeking to conduct criminal activities in
Tijuana and Mexicali; and kidnapped individuals for ransom.

Arellano-Felix was apprehended by the U.S. Coast Guard in August
2006 in international waters off the coast of Mexico, aboard the
Dock Holiday.

“Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix will spend the rest of his life in
prison for leading a violent Mexican drug cartel that was responsible
for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana, and
committing countless acts of violence and corruption,” said Acting
Deputy Attorney General Craig S. Morford. “His arrest and prison
sentence are a testament to the strong and increasingly effective
cooperation between our government and Mexico’s and our
commitment to prosecuting the most powerful drug kingpins from
around the world for trafficking narcotics into the United States.”

According to U.S. Attorney Karen P. Hewitt of the Southern District of California, “The life sentence imposed upon Javier Arellano-Felix
today ensures that his reign of violent crime and international drug
trafficking, which harmed countless individuals in both the United
States and Mexico, is forever over.”

“Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix was once a symbol of the power and
dominance of his family's violent drug cartel. Today, as he is
sentenced in a U.S. court, he is a symbol of the strength of
collaboration between the DEA and Mexican law enforcement, and
of the supremacy of excellent investigative work,” said DEA
Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “The world’s major drug kingpins, like
Arellano-Felix, try to isolate themselves and let their foot soldiers
take the risks and do the prison time. Today’s sentencing shows that
though top brass traffickers may feel untouchable, they are not
beyond the reach of aggressive, cooperative law enforcement.”

“Today’s sentencing closes the door on two decades of drug
trafficking and crime that involved one of the most sophisticated
money laundering schemes in the world,” said Eileen Mayer, Chief,
IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to be
a part of the law enforcement team that brought this organization
and its leaders to justice.”

Arellano-Felix’s co-defendant, Manuel Arturo Villarreal-Heredia, a
senior lieutenant apprehended with Arellano-Felix aboard the Dock
Holiday, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 8, 2008. Villarreal-
Heredia pleaded guilty in September 2007 to operating an
enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiring
to invest illicit drug profits.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura E.
Duffy, Peter Ko, and Stephen M. Tokarz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office
for the Southern District of California. The investigation and arrest of
the defendants was the result of the work of the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal
Revenue Service - Criminal Investigative Division, the United States
Coast Guard, and the California Department of Justice.

Source: USDOJ

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