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Benjamin Arellano Felix was a Mexican drug lord who led the Tijuana cartel.

Benjamin began his smuggling career with his brothers, under the tutelage of Cuban cocaine smuggler Alberto Sicilia Falcon. Arellano Felix joined the Guadalajara cartel, and was given full control of weed smuggling in Tijuana, Mexico. After the Guadalajara cartel began smuggling cocaine, he began warring with his former mentor. With the help of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Arellano Felix's organization became the sole drug trafficking organization in Tijuana after wiping out Sicilia Falcon's drug ring.

In the late 1980s, Benjamin became the leader of the Tijuana cartel along with his brother Ramón. Their cartel had an intense rivalry with the Sinaloa cartel, run by Héctor Palma Salazar and Joaquín Guzmán Loera.


Early smuggling career[]

Benjamín was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa and had five brothers and three sisters.

Sometime in the 1970s, he and his family relocated to Tijuana, Baja California; where they established a smuggling operation with the help of Cuban cocaine trafficker Alberto Sicilia Falcon. The brothers began smuggling consumer electronics, Japanese jeans and occassionally marijuana to the United States using a fleet of trucks.

Benjamín with Félix Gallardo and 'Don Neto' Fonseca Carrillo in 1980

In 1980, Benjamín is approached by Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, an ex-police officer working for Sinaloan marijuana smuggler Pedro Avilés. He wanted to unite all the important Mexican plazas to create a consortium led by his boss to establish a monopoly on marijuana trafficking and control the prices. After showing his operations to Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Benjamín expressed his interest in joining the consortium, and convinced his elder brother 'Pancho' Francisco to attend the meeting held by Félix Gallardo in Guadalajara. However, Benjamín stressed that he could only join the cartel if his mentor Sicilia Falcon allowed him to. Gallardo obtained permission by meeting with Sicilia Falcon and promising him that the brothers won't interfere in his cocaine business.

The meeting initially went on smoothly, but Avilés was indignant towards Ojinaga trafficker Pablo Acosta's lack of respect towards him, and immediately ordered him out of the consortium. Benjamín felt that the Ojinaga traffickers could undercut his operation, and immediately left the federation. Salvador Osuna Nava, the Director-General of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad was impressed by the consortium, and had Avilés killed and made Félix Gallardo the leader of the organization, allowing the Ojinaga and Tijuana plazas back into the organization, creating the Guadalajara cartel.

Guadalajara cartel[]

The brothers profited immensely from joining the cartel, and soon upscaled their operations. However, one of the brothers' cousins, Beto is accidentally killed by the DFS when they were targeting Victor Molina, a veteran smuggler who was part of the organization. Beto's death angered Ramón Arellano Félix, and Benjamín complained to Don Neto about the murder, informing him that he sought to take revenge on the DFS.

Félix Gallardo set up a meeting between the brothers and Osuna Nava at Rodolfo Sánchez's wedding at the Hotel Americas in Guadalajara. There, he informed Osuna Nava that he had sent his men to ambush the agent responsible for the murder, and he would deliver him to Ramón, and warned Osuna that he would be in trouble if the brothers stopped trafficking marijuana since he had a lot of bribes to pay. Ramón shot the groins of the agent, and buried him alive.

Chapo set fire to Sicilia Falcon's warehouse.

Félix Gallardo decided to enter the cocaine business, and left for Colombia to meet with the Cali cartel. Sicilia Falcon was angered by this, and sent a corrupt military unit to seize several kilos of marijuana belonging to the brothers. The soldiers also blew up a truck full of marijuana with a rocket propelled grenade. Sicilia Falcon's actions cause Don Neto and Rafael Caro Quintero to arrive in Tijuana and plan on taking revenge on Sicilia. Don Neto bribed the entirety of the Tijuana police force, and they forge a raid on one of Sicilia Falcon's warehouses. After recovering the brother's marijuana, Joaquín 'Chapo' Guzmán, one of Caro Quintero's men, sets fire to the warehouse.

While celebrating their victory, banter between Chapo and Ramón turned into a physical alteraction, and Benjamín, Rafael and Cochiloco break them up. At that moment, the military launch another raid into the warehouse. The Guadalajara cartel members attempt to put up a fight, but are immediately overpowered, and flee in a pick-up truck driven by Chapo.

Félix Gallardo decided to settle the scores with Sicilia Falcon by bribing all of his guards, and sent corrupt police officers to murder him at his mansion. Unbeknownst to the brothers, Félix sent socialite Isabella Bautista earlier to negotiate with Sicilia Falcon in exchange for 10% of the revenue generated by the Tijuana plaza.

In 1984, Félix Gallardo held a meeting of cartel leaders, and appointed Héctor Palma Salazar, one of Pablo Acosta's lieutenants, as the head of the Sinaloan plaza. Bautista was invited to the meeting, but did not receive anything from Félix. In November of that year, the cartel's superfarm, the Rancho Búfalo is raided by the Mexican military acting on information provided by the United States' Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The raid resulted in the destruction of $8 billion worth of marijuana. The source of information is eventually found out to be American DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar, who, along with a local pilot is promptly kidnapped by the DFS under the orders of Caro Quintero. Camarena and his pilot, Alfredo Zavala Avelar are tortured continously for 30 hours before they succumbed to their injuries. The death of an American federal agent caused a severe blowback from the American government, which shut down the border between the United States and Mexico, disrupting the flow of cocaine and cash for the cartel.

Bautista convinces Benjamín to take control of the Guadalajara cartel.

Pressure mounted on the Mexican government by the Americans results in the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero in Panama. Félix Gallardo bargained his freedom by selling out Don Neto, and fled to the south of the country with the help of corrupt politicians. With two of the leaders arrested and Félix no where to be found, Benjamín summons a meeting of the traffickers at his mansion in Ensenada; on the instructions of Bautista. While discussing about their future, the military swarm into the mansion and apprehend all the bodyguards. Félix Gallardo was escorted in by the military, and he retook control of the organization, and removed Bautista from the meeting. He forgave Benjamín for attempting to take control of the organization.

Meanwhile, Félix Gallardo allowed the Sinaloan traffickers to move their cocaine through the infrastructure established by the Tijuana traffickers. The Sinaloans used this to their advantage by delibrately commandeering Tijuana trucks for long periods of time, and leaving several tons of cocaine in the brothers' warehouses for long periods of time. This angered Enedina Arellano Félix, who ordered Benjamín to talk about this to Gallardo while attending his fortieth birthday party in January 1986. Besides, the cartel were running short on cash, forcing Gallardo to pay out his own pockets since the Colombians had defaulted on their payments owning to increased seizures at the American border due to Camarena's murder. At the party, Félix Gallardo refused to prevent the Sinaloans from moving their coke through Tijuana.

Benjamín chides Enedina for her plans for their organization's future.

Later, Enedina introduced Benjamín Arellano Félix to crack cocaine, which she believed would be a more profitable business which they could get into, since they could sell $400 worth of cocaine as $2000 worth of crack cocaine. However, Benjamín repramanded her for her ideas, saying that it would earn the wrath of both the Colombians and Félix Gallardo.

Later that day, the brothers held a homecoming party for Pancho, who had been released from an American prison. Bautista sneaked into the party, and told Benjamin that she had 200 kilograms of cocaine which she wanted to move through Tijuana. He refused to partner with her again, since he was grateful for Felix for forgiving him before and refused to double cross him again. Meanwhile, back at the party; a brawl erupts between the brothers and a bunch of Sinaloan traffickers who crashed the party. Ramón sustained a black eye from Cochiloco during the brawl, and was briefly hospitalised.

Later, one of the trucks which the Sinaloans used was returned to the brothers' warehouse. Upon opening the truck container, the brothers find a crazy pig inside it. Knowing that it was a joke from Cochiloco (Spanish for crazy pig), he orders Ramón to kill the pig. Benjamín Arellano phones Félix and warns him that he can't tolerate the Sinaloans anymore and threatened of leaving the cartel. Félix then puts a tax of 20% on every product the Sinaloans moved through Tijuana, forcing Palma to order his men to recover their cocaine from the brothers' warehouses. Benjamín sends his men to follow their convoy to see if they were heading back to Sinaloa.

However, the Sinaloan shipment was also tailed by the DEA. The Sinaloans unload the cocaine at a warehouse outside Tijuana. The DEA break into the warehouse, and discover an entrance to an underground tunnel to the other side of the border. On Guillermo Calderoni's advice, the DEA leak the information to Ramón. Ramón gathered a team of members and raided the warehouse. He initally attempted to fill the tunnel with concrete, but changed his mind because of the slowness of the concrete mixture, and instead dropped grenades into the tunnel, capsizing it. Chapo, who was inside the tunnel, successfully escaped to the other side. Survivors who made it to the Mexican side of the tunnel were executed by Ramón and his men. This incident prompted Chapo to retaliate. He killed several of Ramón's men in an arcade. Ramón responded by slicing the hand of Cochiloco's favourite mariachi. Cochiloco responded by squashing two of Ramón's lieutenants to death under a road roller.

Meanwhile, Benjamín's daughter Ruth is found to have a medical problems. He plans to send his wife Ruth see a specialist in San Diego along with the baby.

Benjamín warns Félix that his family would leave the organization unless the dispute with Palma is settled with blood.

Later, at Benjamín's birthday party, his brother Javier introduced him to one of the organization's grunts who came to know about an ambush on a high profile target in Guadalajara. He deduces it to be Félix, and takes advantage of the situation. Palma decided to send Cochiloco to negotiate a peace agreement between both plazas. Benjamín tells Félix that he is weakening, and that he would leave the faction unless he'd be allowed to kill Cochiloco. Félix agreed to Cochiloco's death, and Ramón's men fired over 70 bullets into Cochiloco as his car stopped at a traffic light in the outskirt of Tijuana.

Enedina later informed Benjamín that Félix Gallardo would be moving 70 tons of cocaine through the Juárez plaza. While he asked her how she got that information, she tells him that the bigger question was why no one told him about him, and that of the future of their organization.

The family discusses the raid on the Cali cartel's warehouse.

Félix Gallardo successfully delivered the 70 tons of cocaine of the Cali cartel, but secretly tipped the American authorities about the warehouse location, resulting in a raid on the warehouse, causing loss of more than $7 billion to the Cali cartel. The members of the family meet and discuss the event, since the Colombians would not be able to pay their dues to the organization.

Later, he got to know of the murder of Palma's wife and his two children, authorized by Félix Gallardo. Enedina believed that Félix did it in order to instill fear amongst his employees. He tells him that they would have deal with his tyranny since he had the cocaine, but Enedina introduced him to Hélmer Herrera of the Cali cartel. Benjamín made a deal with the Cali cartel.

Benjamín announces that Tijuana is leaving the Guadalajara cartel.

Juan José Esparragoza Moreno then called all plaza leader to a meeting at the Hotel Americas. The boss informed them that the Federation would be shifting to cocaine retail, hoping to push the Colombians out the market. Benjamín asked when the decision was made, to which Miguel Angel replied that since it organization is his vision, he got to make all decisions. Pacho asked about the dues owed to them by the Colombians, to which Félix replied that they had to wait upwards of a year to make a profit. This decision angered the brothers, who then proceed to pull Tijuana out of the federation. Miguel sarcastically warned of increased violence in Tijuana. Similarly, the Juárez and Sinaloa plaza leaders follow suit; destroying the Federation. After losing his organization, Félix was arrested on April 8, 1989. The brothers went on to form the Tijuana cartel.

Benjamín gets Enedina to cut her ties with Isabella Bautista. The two women were running a highly profitable small scale drug smuggling ring. Enedina offered her former partner a sum of six million pesos to leave Tijuana, iterating that the city belonged to the Arellano-Félix family. However, Bautista ignored the offer, forcing Enedina to send corrupt police officers to arrest her as she attempted to move a truck load of cocaine into the United States.

Tijuana cartel[]

In 1994, Juárez cartel leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes told Herrera that the Arellano Félix brothers were wasting time on heroin, indicating that they prioritized heroin over cocaine at that point.

Kingpin Act[]

Later, in 2000, Benjamin was put under the Kingpin Act. The daughter was recognizable by the DEA and on March 9, 2002, Benjamin was arrested by the Mexican Army. On April 29, 2011, Benjamin was extradited to the United States to face the crime in California for which he received a 25 year sentence in federal prison.

Personal life[]

Benjamín Arellano Félix married a woman named Ruth, and they had a daughter, who was named after her mother. The daughter suffered from unspecified medical problems, and was required to go to San Diego with her mother to meet a specialist.

Narcos Mexico Season 1
"The Plaza System"
"El Padrino"
"Rafa, Rafa, Rafa!"
"The Colombian Connection"
"La Última Frontera"
"Jefe de Jefes"
"Just Say No"
"811 Lope de Vega"
Narcos Mexico Season 2
"Salva El Tigre"
"Alea Iacta Est"
"Ruben Zuno Arce"
"The Big Dig"
"El Dedazo"
"Truth and Reconciliation"
"Se Cayó El Sistema"
"Growth, Prosperity, and Liberation"
"Free Trade"