'Narcos: Mexico': Where is drug lord Félix Gallardo's family now, how are they connected to the Tijuana Cartel?

Back in 2011, when Gallardo was 67, his family wrote an open letter to Mexico's Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna


                            'Narcos: Mexico': Where is drug lord Félix Gallardo's family now, how are they connected to the Tijuana Cartel?
Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo's family (DEA)

'Narcos: Mexico' uncovers the illegal drug trade and through two gritty and grueling seasons, it puts the spotlight on Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Played by Mexican actor Diego Luna, Félix is shown to be the mastermind behind the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1970s.

Not only his life in crime, but his personal life is also shown in the series. His first wife died of leukemia in 1968. His second wife was Maria Elvira, daughter of an opium trafficker. They had two children, Miguel Jr and Abril. In the early 1980s, when he grew immensely powerful, he abandoned her but tried to reconcile several times. Before his fortieth birthday in 1986, he married his third wife, Daniela. She had a daughter but is unknown if she had it with Félix.

In real life, there is very less information about his wife and kids. However, back in 2011, when Gallardo was 67, his family wrote an open letter to Mexico's Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna about Gallardo's ill-treatment in prison and how he was not getting proper medication for multiple ailments. The letter was published as an almost full-page ad in Mexico City's newspapers.

Diego Luna as Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Fernanda Urrejola as Maria Elvira (Netflix)

“For more than three years, without any justification, prison authorities have kept him segregated, isolated and without contact with other inmates, and have prevented him from participating in any physical, sports or educational activities,” the letter read, in which the family also mentioned their swanky southern Mexico City neighborhood address.

Apart from his life partners, did you know that at least nine of Gallardo's nieces and nephews took over different roles within the organization? Together, they formed the Arellano Félix Organization (AFO), which was also known as the Tijuana Cartel. The Tijuana Cartel traces its roots back to Sinaloa. Its founding members were Sinaloans who worked closely with Gallardo, alias “El Padrino,” who began moving marijuana and heroin into the United States in the 1960s. El Padrino worked with a group of Sinaloans including Pedro Avilés Pérez, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca. Yes, several members of the cartel, as shown in the series are actually Félix's family members. 

The AFO was responsible for supplying an estimated 40 percent of the cocaine consumed within the United States during its heyday. In 2008, it was reported that the AFO continued to operate in 15 Mexican states with its principal base of operations located in Tijuana.

Among his nieces are Enedina Arellano Félix de Toledo — the leader of Arellano Félix Organization, Alicia Arellano Félix — a member of the Arellano Félix Organization, and Sandra Ávila Beltrán, a former member of the Sinaloa Cartel. In the series, Enedina Arellana was played by actress Mayra Hermosillo and Isabella Bautista's character (played by Teresa Ruiz) was partly based on Sandra Ávila's life.

Teresa Ruiz as Isabella Bautista (Netflix)

His nephews who later joined the cartel are: Benjamín Arellano Félix, Carlos Arellano Félix, Eduardo Arellano Félix, Francisco Javier Arellano Félix, Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, Luis Fernando Arellano Félix and Ramón Arellano Félix. Not just that, his grandnephews also became a part of the Tijuana Cartel, including Fabian Arellano Corona and Javier Benjamin Briseño Arellano. 

Benjamín Arellano-Felix assumed leadership of the Arellano-Felix organization after Gallardo was arrested. Benjamin was eventually extradited to San Diego in 2011, pleaded guilty in 2012 to racketeering and money laundering charges and is serving a 25-year-sentence. It was after his elder brother Benjamin's arrest in 2002 that Francisco Javier rose in the cartel ranks but in 2007, Javier Arellano pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole but in 2015 it was reduced to 23 1/2 years because he provided crucial information to the government. Ramón was killed by police in Sinaloa in 2002.

On October 2018, 2013, a gunman disguised as a clown killed Francisco Rafael, the oldest brother in the clan running Mexico’s once-mighty Tijuana Cartel. Eduardo also known as “El Doctor” was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a District Court in San Diego, California on August 20, 2013.  According to Reuters, Eduardo pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds and one count of conspiring to invest that money for AFO’s benefit. Eduardo, one of four Arellano Felix brothers, was considered the last-man-standing in the AFO clan because he had evaded capture until 2008. 

Sadly, not much is known about his children and whether they are a part of the cartel business. Right now, Félix is still behind the bars. After an arrest in 1989, he was imprisoned at the Altiplano maximum-security prison in Mexico State for his involvement in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Due to his deteriorating health, vertigo, deafness, loss of an eye and blood circulation problems, he was later moved to a medium-security prison in Guadalajara (State of Jalisco). His request to complete the rest of his sentence at home has not been approved by the court. 

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