Gunmen dressed as clowns kill Mexican drug lord at family party

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 4:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 8:44am


Gunmen disguised as clowns at a children's party shot dead the eldest brother of Mexico's once-powerful Arellano Felix drug cartel family.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, was gunned down at a family event on Friday in Cabo San Lucas, a tourist resort in the Baja California peninsula, state special investigations prosecutor Isai Arias said.

"He was hit by two bullets, one in the thorax and one in the head," Arias said.

Relatives identified the former Tijuana drug cartel lieutenant's body, Arias said, adding no arrests have been made.

The gunmen were dressed as clowns when they shot Arellano Felix at the party in the luxurious Casa Oceano tourist residence.

The Arellano Felix brothers once dominated drug trafficking between Mexico and California through their brutal Tijuana cartel, inspiring characters in the Steven Soderbergh movie Traffic. Most of the Arellano Felix brothers have been either killed or arrested, leaving the cartel in tatters. Infighting also weakened the group.

Francisco Rafael's murder is likely "due to unpaid old debts, and old retributions" from when they were at the height of their power between 1990 and 2000, said Raul Benitez, a drug trade expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Nicknamed El Menso (The Dummy), Francisco Rafael was arrested in 1980 in San Diego, California, for allegedly selling drugs, but slipped back to Mexico when he was released on bail.

In 1993 he was arrested in Mexico and jailed on drug charges. In 2006 he was extradited to the United States and was sentenced to six years in jail after confessing to selling drugs to an undercover agent.

In 2008 he was released, earning time off for good behaviour, according to his attorney at the time, and repatriated to Mexico.