Acting on a citizen's tip that armed men were seen in the upscale Colonia Chapultepec neighborhood in Tijuana, on July 10 military personnel and local authorities raided a residence there and captured an American man suspected of belonging to the Arellano Felix drug cartel.
The 27-year-old suspect, a Santa Ana, CA native named Eduardo Morquecho Hernandez, attempted to escape in a black automobile parked on the premises, but was quickly captured and taken into custody. In the accompanying picture, which displays the loot recovered during the raid, Morquecho, aka "Lalo", can be seen in the center in a white t-shirt.
Orange County, CA court records show that Morquecho pleaded guilty in 2001 to assault with a deadly weapon, and in 2005 to a domestic battery charge. He is wanted in California on a parole violation stemming from the domestic battery charge, according to Omar Castillo of the U.S. Marshals Office in San Diego.
Inside the residence authorities found 690 kilos of marijuana, wrapped in 176 packages ready for transport. Also seized on the property, according to AFN (México Agencia Fronteriza, the first-ever Mexican border newswire agency):
- 4 sacks of caustic acid, of a type used to dissolve bodies
- 32 weapons: 23 of which were high caliber
- 105 magazines
- 2,550 cartridges
- 6 bulletproof vests
- 4 tactical vests
- 5 vests with the AFI (Federal Investigation Agency) Logo
- Miltary cammies
- A number of mobile/cell phones
The clan's eldest brother, Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, returned to Mexico last year following a 15-year stint in a U.S. prison. During his absence the cartel was run by one of his sisters and has lost ground to its enemies.
Experts say some Tijuana smugglers are breaking away and teaming up with the Sinaloa cartel on some drug deals.
Nevertheless, the Arellano Felix cartel is still fighting to remain the dominant force in and around Tijuana and few expect a decrease in the gangland killings.