Tijuana Mexico cartel boss arrested during 2014 World Cup while watching Mexico vs Croatia
Fernando Sanchez Arellano was wearing a green football jersey and had Mexico's team colours painted on his face when he was detained
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday 25 June 2014
Fernando Sanchez Arellano, the suspected head of the once powerful Mexican Tijuana cartel, has been captured by the army as he sat watching Mexico play Croatia in the World Cup, officials have said.
Federal police chief Monte Alejandro Rubido said Sanchez Arellano was detained in the border city of Tijuana on Monday. He was also carrying $100,000 (£59,000) in cash when he was arrested while wearing a green football jersey and with white, green and red stripes painted on his face.
Sanchez Arellano, known as "The Engineer," is believed to have taken over the cartel in 2008 following a series of arrests in his family. He is the nephew of former Tijuna head Javier Arellano Felix, who was sentenced in San Diego to 40 years in federal prison.
The Tijuna cartel have reportedly tortured and killed rivals across Mexico and the US, allegedly disposing of their bodies by dumping them in vats of corrosives.
The group suffered after Sanchez Arellano's rival was arrested in 2010, which created an opening for the Sinaloa cartel to quietly gain control of Tijuana's underworld and its coveted smuggling corridor to San Diego.
The Sinaloa cartel has made its mark in the area with cross-border drug tunnels, large-scale smuggling of methamphetamine at San Diego border crossings and marijuana-laden boats that motor up the Pacific coast to California.
In 2013, the US Drug Enforcement Administration included Sanchez Arellano on a poster of the six most influential drug traffickers in that region but authorities were more concerned about rising Sinaloa cartel lieutenants.
A 30-million-peso reward (£1.4m) was offered for information leading to his capture.
Gary Hill, an assistant DEA special agent in charge in San Diego, said in an interview at the time that Sanchez Arellano was "almost like a ghost."
Additional reporting by AP
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