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Francisco Rafeal Arellano Felix, a former Mexican cartel leader, was attending a children's party in the resort area of Los Cabos this weekend when a person dressed as a clown shot him in the head, Mexican officials said.

Francisco Rafael was the eldest of a band of brothers who founded the Tijuana cartel in the early 1990's. The group was also known in the United States as the Arellano Felix Organization [AFO]. Breaking up this notorious cartel — which is featured in the 2001 film “Traffic” — was a top priority for the DEA. In fact, several of Francisco Rafael's brothers are currently serving prison time in the U.S.


Francisco Rafael was never a major player in the global drug trade though. He was arrested in 1993 on weapons possession charges, and spent 13 years in Mexican prisons. This means that he was mostly inactive during the cartel's heyday in the late '90s.

After Francisco Rafael served his Mexican sentence, however, authorities still feared that he would return to the drug trade. So they facilitated his extradition to the United States, where he spent an additional two years in prison for a 1980 cocaine bust in San Diego.


Francisco Rafael was allowed to return to Mexico in 2008, where he stayed mostly out of the limelight. He's not the first drug trafficker to get killed long after his glory days ended.

Last year, gunmen in Colombia assassinated cocaine queen Griselda Blanco after she walked out of a butcher's shop in her hometown of Medellin. Blanco, who was responsible for the murders of dozens of people in Colombia and the United States, was forced to retire from the cocaine trade back in 1985.


Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.

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