LOS CABOS, MEXICO - A gunman in a clown costume shot and killed the oldest brother of one of Mexico's most notorious drug trafficking families in the resort of Los Cabos, authorities said on Saturday.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, a former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, was shot in the head late on Friday at a family gathering in the southern tip of the state of Baja California Sur, a spokesman for state prosecutors said.
"A person dressed as a clown took his life," he said.
Local media reported that the killer had two accomplices, but this was not yet clear, the spokesman said.
The gunman fled the scene.
Arellano Felix spent nearly 15 years behind bars for drug-related offenses after his arrest in Mexico in late 1993.
Extradited to the United States in 2006, he was later paroled and walked free on his return to Mexico in early 2008.
Another official working with state prosecutors said Arellano Felix, the oldest of the brothers who headed the gang, was not wanted by authorities at the time of his death.
The possibility that his killer had ties to organized crime was being investigated, the official said.
Led by a large family of brothers and sisters, the Tijuana Cartel was one of the most powerful drug gangs in Mexico until it was gradually weakened by the capture or killing of several its leading members during the previous decade.
Arellano Felix's younger brothers, Francisco Javier, Benjamin and Eduardo are serving prison sentences in the United States.
Another of his brothers, Ramon, was killed in a shootout with police in 2002.
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The cartel was described as "one of the biggest and most violent criminal groups in Mexico".
The Arellano Félix family was initially composed of seven brothers and four sisters, who inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration in Mexico in 1989 for his complicity in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena.
Although the subsequent brothers' death and arrest in the 2000s (decade) are blows to the Arellano Felix cartel, it did not dismantle the organization which currently is led by the Arellano's nephew, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano.
The Tijuana Cartel has infiltrated the Mexican law enforcement and judicial systems and is directly involved in street-level trafficking within the United States.
This criminal organization is responsible for the transportation, importation, and distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine.
Ramón was eventually killed in a gun battle with police at Mazatlán Sinaloa, on February 10, 2002.
The Arellano Félix family has seven brothers:
- Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix (born 24 October 1949) - Captured and released, murdered on 18 October 2013
- Benjamín Arellano Félix (born 3 December 1952) - Captured on March 9, 2002, extradited on April 29, 2011
- Carlos Arellano Félix (born 20 August 1955) - is not currently wanted.
- Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 11 October 1956), - Captured on October 26, 2008, extradited on August 31, 2012
- Ramón Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 31 August 1964) - Deceased, shot by police in February 2002
- Luis Fernando Arellano Félix (believed to be born 26 January 1966) is not currently wanted.
- Francisco Javier Arellano Félix (born 11 December 1969) - Captured on August 2006
They also have four sisters, where Alicia and Enedina are most active in the cartel's affairs.
The family inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration.
Leyva remains at large and Villareal was captured in July 2011.