Tijuana Cartel Boss Fernando Sanchez Arellano Captured

By Shawn Dwyer 06/25/14

Known as "The Engineer," Sanchez stepped over countless bodies to rise to the top of the infamous drug cartel.

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In another blow to the once powerful Tijuana drug cartel, police captured Fernando Sanchez Arellano at his home in Tijuana while he watched Mexico’s soccer team beat Croatia to advance in the 2014 World Cup.

Sanchez was unable to celebrate Mexico’s 3-1 victory, however, as he was taken away from his home in Tijuana's La Mesa district before the match was over. The Mexican government had offered 30 million pesos, or $2.3 million U.S. dollars, for information leading to his capture, though currently it remains unclear whether or not anyone claimed the reward.

Dubbed "The Engineer," Sanchez rose to the top of the Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Félix Organization, after his uncle, Javier Arellano Felix, was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2006 and later sentenced to 40 years in federal prison. Two years later, Sanchez found himself in the middle of a brutal drug war against a former lieutenant, Teodoro Garcia Simental, that led to one of Tijuana’s most violent periods, where the border city was plagued by routine beheadings and mutilated bodies hanging from bridges.

Sanchez managed to fend off Garcia and later forged a truce with Sinaloa Cartel leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who himself was captured earlier this year. But by 2010, the Tijuana Cartel had lost considerable power, leading to Guzman’s cartel to move in and take over the lucrative drug trafficking route to San Diego.

Sanchez is currently being held in Tijuana, but is expected to be transferred to Mexico City.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.