FACTBOX-Facts about Mexico's drug war in Tijuana

Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:15pm EST

Related Topics

Jan 12 (Reuters) - Mexican police captured major drug trafficker Teodoro Garcia Simental, known for having the corpses of tortured rivals dissolved in acid, in the northern border city of Tijuana on Tuesday. [N12202064]

Here are some facts about drug violence in the city, which lies across from San Diego, California.

* Violence broke out in the border city once popular with U.S. tourists in 2005 when Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted trafficker, sent his hitmen to try to take control of Tijuana from the weakened Arellano Felix cartel.

* At its height in the 1990s, the Arellano Felix clan shipped tons of Colombian cocaine into California. U.S. and Mexican law enforcement slowly weakened the Tijuana cartel, killing leading drug lord Ramon Arellano Felix and arresting his brother Benjamin.

* The cartel has regrouped under the leadership of 35-year-old Fernando Sanchez Arellano, known as "The Engineer" because he studied engineering at a private university. Sanchez Arellano has the support of his accountant aunt, Enedina Arellano Felix, who helps run the cartel's financial operations.

* Garcia Simental, who ran the armed wing of the cartel, disputed Sanchez Arellano's leadership and tried to use shocking violence to win control of the cartel. Unsuccessful, he later set up a rival gang and allied with Guzman while diversifying into kidnapping and extorting local businesses.

* The three-way war between Guzman, Garcia Simental and Arellano Sanchez has turned Tijuana into one of Mexico's most violent cities with some 1,400 drug killings in the past two years. That has scared off U.S. tourists who used to come in droves for cheap sex, medicines and tequila.

* Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent thousands of soldiers to Tijuana in January 2007 and has since deployed more troops and elite naval forces, but the military presence has failed to stop the killings.

* Guzman is still at large, believed to live in Mexico's "Golden Triangle" of remote mountains in Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua state. He has a $5 million bounty on his head in the United States, while the Mexican government has offered a $2.3 million reward for information leading to Arellano Sanchez's capture.

(For more information about the capture of the drug gang leader, click on [ID:nN12202064])

(Reporting by Robin Emmott)

FILED UNDER: