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Mexican Authorities Say Arellano Felix Leader May Have Used U.S. As Hideout


Aired 4/19/09

Mexican authorities say the leader of the Arellano Felix cartel may have used the U-S as a safehaven last month. This as his cartel battles for the key smuggling turf between Tijuana and San Diego. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Mexican authorities say the presumed leader of the Arellano Felix Cartel, Fernando Sanchez Arellano, his nickname is "El Ingeniero", crossed into to the U-S to restructure the drug cartel cell he heads.

Authorities say Sanchez Arellano also used his time here to get more support from two Mexican drug groups that were his rivals. And Sanchez Arellano left a man named Armando Villareal at the helm in Tijuana.

Eileen Zeidler, with the Drug Enforcement Administration, says she is not aware of Mexican authorities' version. Nor does know El Ingeniero's whereabouts.

Zeidler did confirm Villareal is an Arellano Felix lieutenant. She says has family in San Diego. And she says his cousin is Arturo Villareal. He's serving 30 years in US prison for his cartel ties. US officials arrested him off the coast of Baja with then cartel leader Francisco Javier Arellano Felix.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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