Federal court documents show that the Arrelano Felix Organization (AFO) also known as the Arrelano Felix Family is a criminal enterprise based in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. For more than 20 years, the AFO has shipped hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana to the United States; laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds; kidnapped, tortured, and murdered numerous persons, including informants and law enforcement personnel; and paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials.
The cartel nearly collapsed in 2002, after Ramon Arrelano Felix was killed by the police, and Brother Benjamin was taken into custody. However, the cartel has since seen resurgence in strength, power, and violence. And, with the recruiting of U.S. Government agents and others, the cartel continues to be a major player in all organized crime in Baja California.
The remarkable thing about this case is one of the defendants as a high ranking cartel boss of Richard Padilla Cramer a former United States Government agent with ICE, little known fact that has not been brought to the attention of the public by U.S. Authorities in this case.
Duarte was close to, and worked with, Cramer a corrupt U.S. ICE official they conspired as they murdered, or caused others to be murdered, as they invested cash in global drug deals endangering the lives of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement.
Furthering the danger, Cramer sold secret U.S. Government information to Duarte and other Mexican Drug Cartel bosses and to the Mexican Government as ran huge cocaine trafficking operations. Feds reported Cramer joined the cartels full time after he retired from ICE. A former U.S. Government internal affairs agent who wants to remain anonymous told the U.S. Border Fire Report that defendant Armando Martinez-Duarte, was Cramer’s boss and has been for years. The internal affairs agent claims that it is possible Cramer is acting covertly as a double agent.
Richard Padilla Cramer, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. anti-drug complex was arrested by DEA agents last month and is behind bars in Florida awaiting the results of a Federal Grand Jury investigation. Cramer was arrested and jailed after U.S. Government officials accused him of directing a massive cocaine shipment to Spain via the United States, and selling important information in law enforcement databases to the vicious Arrelano Felix Mexican Drug Cartel.
Cramer, as a high-ranking U.S. anti-drug official, held front-line posts both in the United States and in Mexico in the War on Drugs. Cramer, sometime later, was investing in drugs and trafficking as a full partner in Mexico’s murderous drug cartels. According to records made available to this reporter, he led an office of two dozen agents in Arizona and others as the attachÃ© officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Guadalajara, Mexico. Both Duarte and he, worked with the U.S. Mexican Embassy in Mexico City and U.S. Consulate offices in Guadalajara and other Mexican cities.
United States Attorney, Karen P. Hewitt, announced today that, within the last week, Jesus “Chuy” Labra-Aviles, Efrain Perez, Jorge Arrelano Felix, and Armando Martinez-Duarte pled guilty in United States District Court to charges arising from their leadership of the Arellano-Felix drug trafficking organization (AFO).
The defendants entered their guilty pleas before United States Magistrate Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo, subject to final acceptance of the plea by United States District Court Judge Larry A. Burns, at the time of sentencing. The details of the defendants’ pleas are not known but here is what we do know:
Jesus “Chuy” Labra-Aviles: On October 15, 2009, Labra-Aviles pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and agreed to forfeit $1 million. Under the plea agreement, the United States will recommend 40 years of imprisonment. As part of the plea, Labra-Aviles admitted that from the 1980s to 2000, he was a senior partner in the AFO who frequently joined with Benjamin Arellano-Felix and Manuel Aguirre-Galindo to invest in and distribute large shipments of cocaine and marijuana.
Labra-Aviles also admitted that he served as an organizer and leader of the AFO and that AFO members paid millions of dollars in bribes to law enforcement officers, government officials, and military officials. Sentencing for Labra- Aviles is set for January 4, 2010, 9:30 a.m., before United States District Judge Larry A. Burns.
Armando Martinez-Duarte: On October 16, 2009, Martinez-Duarte pleaded guilty to conspiring to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.
As part of his plea, Martinez- Duarte admitted that from the 1990s to April 2002, he was a federal law enforcement officer in Mexico who was paid by AFO leaders to leak information about AFO investigations, intervene with other law enforcement officers on the AFO’s behalf, escort and protect AFO members and drug shipments, and help place certain individuals in ranking law enforcement positions in areas under AFO control. Sentencing for Martinez- Duarte is set for January 11, 2010, 9:30 a.m., before Judge Burns.
Efrain Perez: On October 19, 2009, Perez pleaded guilty to conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiring to invest illicit drug profits. Perez also agreed to forfeit $1 million. Under the plea agreement, the United States will recommend 30 years of imprisonment.
Perez admitted that from the 1990s to June 2004, he and Ismael Higuera-Guerrero, the top lieutenant to the Arellano-Felix brothers, were responsible for receiving large drug shipments in Mexico and smuggling them into the United States, coordinating the distribution of drug shipments within the United States, collecting drug proceeds, and policing Tijuana for enemies, suspected informants, and uncooperative government personnel. Perez also admitted AFO members killed numerous persons in furtherance of the enterprise. Sentencing for Perez is February 8, 2010, 9:30 a.m., before Judge Burns.
Jorge Aureliano Felix: On October 21, 2009, Felix pleaded guilty to conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiring to invest illicit drug profits. Felix also agreed to forfeit $1 million. Under the plea agreement, the United States will recommend 30 years of imprisonment. Felix admitted that, like Perez, from the 1990s to June 2004, he ranked as a top AFO lieutenant. Sentencing for Felix is set for January 11, 2010, 9:30 a.m., before Judge Burns.
According to federal officials the guilty pleas by Labra-Aviles, Perez, Felix, and Martinez-Duarte bring to eight the number of high-ranking AFO leaders who have been convicted since 2006 in the Southern District of California of federal drug trafficking and racketeering charges.
“These four guilty pleas of top leadership figures in the Arellano-Felix Organization are the product of outstanding investigative and prosecutorial work over more than a decade. In achieving this success, we appreciate the cooperation provided by the Government of Mexico during the extradition process. But our work does not end here. The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to seeking justice against all drug traffickers attempting to exploit the southwest border,” said United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt.
“With this guilty plea today, all agencies involved in this investigation have dealt a significant blow to the leadership of the Arellano Felix Organization,” said Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge of the DEA San Diego. “This should send a message to the traffickers that with the outstanding cooperation of the Mexican government, there is no place to hide, they will be brought to justice.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented, “Today’s guilty pleas are a result of thoughtful investigative work and cooperation between law enforcement agencies and we are pleased with the efforts of the prosecutors to see justice brought to these individuals.”
“The plea agreements announced today deal a significant blow to the Arellano-Felix organization and demonstrate law enforcement’s resolve to continue to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking organizations,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office. “IRS-Criminal Investigation brings in its financial expertise to narcotic investigations to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. We specialize in following the money in these illegal operations, enabling increased criminal prosecutions and asset forfeitures.”
Case Number: 97cr2520-LAB
Jesus “Chuy” Labra-Aviles
Jorge Aureliano Felix
SUMMARY OF CHARGES AND PENALTIES
Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 and 846 (punishable by at least five years and up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine)
Conducting, and conspiring to conduct, the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962 (punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross profits)
Conspiracy to invest illicit drug profits, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 854 (punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine).
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service, Criminal
A list of those cartels
-Tijuana Cartel…Run by the Arrelano Felix family. The cartel nearly collapsed in 2002, after Ramon Arrelano Felix was killed by the police, and brother Benjamin was taken into custody. However, the cartel has since seen a resurgence in strength and violence of late, and continues to be a major player in the smuggling of marijuana and cocaine into the U.S.
–Sinaloa Cartel…Infamous for the smuggling of cocaine from Columbia, and heroin from Southeast Asia. They also produce their own brand of heroin. U.S. law enforcement has identified Sinaloa Cartel distribution centers in Arizona, California, Texas, New York, and Chicago. The Sinaloa Cartel uses the gangs known as MS-13 and the Mexican Mafia to distribute drugs inside the U.S.
-Gulf Cartel…Utilizes an elite paramilitary group known as the Zetas as enforcers. Many of the Zetas were actually trained at U.S. military bases, in an effort by this country to aid the Mexican government in their fight against the cartels. Upon their return to Mexico, they were recruited by the Gulf Cartel, who offered them a much higher salary than did the government.
The Zetas have proven to be ruthless fighters in the cartel´s ongoing war with the Sinaloa Cartel.
The Gulf Cartel boasts of relationships with corrupt officials and is based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, they also have major operations in the city of Nuevo Laredo and account for the increased violence now being seen there.
-Beltran-Leyva Cartel…Based in Sinaloa, it is a family business with the five Beltran-Leyva brothers: Marcos Arturo, Mario Alberto, Carlos, Alfredo and HÃ©ctor. The brothers traffic in cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
The cartel’s other criminal enterprises include human smuggling, kidnapping, money laundering, and arms trafficking. Beltran-Leyva is in direct competition with the Sinaloa Cartel, a rivalry which has turned the Mexican state of Sinaloa into a war zone.
-La Familia Cartel…Based in the Mexican state of Michoacan formed in 2006, as a splinter group of the Gulf Cartel. The group’s leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez sees himself as an evangelical figure, and always carries a Bible with him.
In a strange mix of religion and drug trafficking, Gonzalez forbids his employees to use drugs or alcohol. The cartel enjoys an incredibly violent reputation, and actually describes their use of mutilations and beheadings of rival cartel members as “divine justice.”
The La Familia Cartel has become very powerful, very quickly through the use of bribes of both local and national politicians. In addition to drug trafficking, the organization extorts so-called protection money from local businesses.
-Juarez Cartel…Perhaps, the wealthiest of the cartels.
According to the U.S. State Department, the Juarez Cartel “controls one of the primary transportation routes for billions of dollars worth of drug shipments entering the United States from Mexico annually.”
The Juarez Cartel has been publicly posting hit lists containing the names of Juarez police officers. Many of those officers have been murdered, and still more have fled the city.
Kidnappings, torture, and shootouts have become a way of life in violence-plagued Juarez. That Mexican city which shares a border with El Paso, TX, has already seen an astounding 3,000 murders since January 2008.