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Border & Immigration

Two Arellano-Felix Higher-Ups Plead Guilty to Racketeering

Two Arellano-Felix Higher-Ups Plead Guilty to Racketeering

Two high-ranking members of Tijuana's Arellano-Felix drug cartel have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges connected to their work for the organization. One faces 40 years in prison. The other, 30. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Brothers Ismael and Gilberto Higuerra Guerrero were extradited from Mexico last January.  Gilberto pleaded guilty today. Ismael entered his plea during a secret hearing about two months ago.


He admitted that he was the Arellano-Felix Cartel's top lieutenant, and took orders directly from the Arellano-Felix brothers.

Ismael also said he supervised other high ranking cartel members, including his brother Gilberto, to oversee day-to-day cartel workings.

Both brothers say they shipped tons of cocaine through Mexico to the United States. They collected drug payments and took the money back to Mexico.

The brothers say the cartel used some of those proceeds to buy off government, law enforcement and military officials throughout Mexico.

Attorneys would not say if the brothers agreed to cooperate with the government in its case against alleged cartel leader Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix and another suspected top member.


Prosecutors say, regardless, the pleas help because they can now focus their full attention on that case.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.