SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Benjamin Arellano Felix, the one-time leader of the infamous Arellano Felix drug cartel based in Tijuana, is asking a California judge to let him out of prison only 10 years into his prison term for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.
In April 2012, Arellano Felix was sentenced to 25 years behind bars after agreeing to a plea bargain.
He was also ordered to pay a $100 million fine to the U.S. government.
Before the plea deal, federal prosecutors were pursuing racketeering and conspiracy to launder money charges, saying Arellano Felix had led one of Mexico’s largest drug trafficking organizations for more than 15 years.
And according to prosecutors, he was instrumental in bringing in “hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana to the United States.”
While head of Arellano Felix Organization from the late 80s till about 2002, he is said to have ordered the murders and kidnappings of hundreds of people throughout Mexico.
He and his brother Ramon were responsible for the murder of a Catholic Cardinal in Guadalajara, Mexico back in 1993. The cleric was mistaken for another target, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel at the time.
Arellano Felix and his cartel also corrupted law enforcement in Mexico, military leaders and politicians according to court documents.
“Arellano Felix has destroyed lives and caused untold suffering on both sides of the border,” prosecutors said in court.
As part of his plea deal, they dismissed charges that could have brought him 140 years in prison if he was convicted.
This past April 26, Arellano Felix’s attorneys filed a motion to allow him to leave prison long before his scheduled release date.
He is in custody in a federal penitentiary in Virginia.
According to the Milenio newspaper based in Mexico City, Arellano Felix is citing “humanitarian reasons” in his request with the court.
A judge will decide whether to approve the request.
Border Report reached out to Arellano Felix’s attorney, who is based in San Diego, but he did not return calls.
The Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, instrumental in bringing down the Arellano Felix organization, said it did not have any comment related to his request for early release from prison.
Arellano Felix and his cartel were the basis for the film “Traffic” released in 2000, starting Michael Douglas.
Last year, they were portrayed in Season 3 of the Netflix series “Narcos Mexico.”