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Confirms Arellano's death

FBI: DNA

March 26, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The FBI has confirmed Ramon Arellano Felix, the enforcer of the most notorious drug cartel in Mexico, was killed in a gun battle with Mexican police Feb. 10.

Jan Caldwell, FBI spokeswoman in San Diego, said DNA tests done in the FBI lab in Washington, D.C., confirmed the death of Ramon Arellano. He was shot by police in Mazatlan, where authorities have said Arellano traveled to kill a rival drug cartel member.

The confirmation of his death comes as another Arellano brother, Benjamin Arellano Felix, has been held over to stand trial on drug charges. Benjamin Arellano was considered the "brains" of the operation, handling the day-to-day business of the cartel. He was arrested March 9.

The brothers were considered to be the heads of the cartel. However, there are others in the family who could take over the operation.

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The Arellano family has control over drug trafficking in places including Tijuana and Mexicali.

Authorities have said with the loss of the two brothers, other cartels could perceive the Arellano family to be weakened and could attempt to move in on its territory. They have said it is difficult to say whether there will be an effect on the drug- trafficking efforts in the area.

The Arellano Felix cartel is thought to be responsible for more than 300 murders during the last decade.

Ramon Arellano was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. After his death, his body was removed from a morgue and cremated immediately, forcing authorities to depend on DNA tests to confirm his death. At the time of his death, he had identification with him listing an alias.

Of Benjamin Arellano, U.S. authorities have said they will wait to see how Mexican authorities move forward with their prosecution and determine later whether to seek his extradition on drug charges.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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