A gunman wearing a clown costume has killed the oldest brother of one of Mexico’s most notorious drug trafficking families in the resort of Los Cabos.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, a former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, was shot in the head late on Friday at a family gathering in the southern tip of the state of Baja California Sur, state prosecutors said.
‘A person dressed as a clown took his life,’ the spokesman said, adding that the gunman fled the scene.
‘He was hit by two bullets, one in the chest and one in the head,’ Isai Arias, a Baja California state government official, said.
An unnamed official said the killer was wearing a wig and round red nose. The motive and the gunmen’s disguise were being investigated.
Local media reported that the killer had two accomplices when he attacked the former drug lord at a rented beach house, but this was not yet clear.
Arellano Felix spent nearly 15 years behind bars for drug-related offenses after his arrest in Mexico in 1993.
He was extradited to the U.S. in 2006 and after being granted parole and released he returned to Mexico in 2008.
‘He was never really part of the leadership of the big organization, mostly because he was in jail [in Mexico]. He was arrested before they became what they really became,’ John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor in San Diego, who co-wrote a 2003 indictment against the cartel, said.
Another official working with state prosecutors said Arellano Felix, the oldest of the brothers who headed the gang, was not wanted by authorities at the time of his death.
The possibility that his killer had ties to organized crime was being investigated, the official said.
Arellano Felix had been arrested in 1993 in connection with the murder of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, and served a ten-year sentence for weapons possession.
Mexican officials were concerned that he would return to drug trafficking after serving his Mexican sentence and asked their U.S. counterparts to seek his extradition.
‘The Mexicans were very concerned he was going to get out,’ Mr Kirby said.
He found enough evidence to bring charges and Arellano Felix was extradited to the U.S. in 2006 to face California charges stemming from a 1980 case in which he allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover police officer.
Led by a large family of brothers and sisters, the Tijuana Cartel was one of the most powerful drug gangs in Mexico until it was gradually weakened by the capture or killing of several leading members.
Arellano Felix’s younger brothers, Francisco Javier, Benjamin and Eduardo are serving prison sentences in the U.S.. Another of his brothers, Ramon, was killed in a shootout with police in 2002.