In one indication of how much the conflict in Tijuana has evolved since 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a new poster identifying the six most-wanted drug traffickers in the border region — five of them members of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Unsurprisingly, two of the most-wanted on the poster were the top leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
Also named is Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias “El Ingeniero,” an enigmatic leader of the Tijuana Cartel.
Rounding out the top six is another three members of the Sinaloa Cartel: brothers Alfonzo and Rene Arzate Garcia, alias “El Aquiles” and “La Rana” respectively, and Jose Antonio Soto Gastelum, alias “El Tigre.”
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The fact that the DEA now considers these Sinaloa Cartel members to be the major drug traffickers in the Tijuana-San Diego area is partly illustrative of how badly weakened the Tijuana Cartel, or Arellano Felix Organization, has become. The Tijuana Cartel lost influence due to a bloody internal feud and a drawn-out war with the Sinaloa Cartel, until a truce was established circa 2009. This resulted in several years of peace in Tijuana, although there have been some signs of rising violence in the city and the surrounding state, Baja California.
As Tijuana-based Zeta magazine has reported, state security authorities have identified Alfonzo Arzate Garcia and Jose Antonio Soto among the three-most wanted men in Baja California. However, neither the Arzate brothers nor Soto are believed to currently reside in Tijuana.