Mexico: Cartel Figure Assassinated by Gunman in Clown Suit

A gunman dressed as a clown murdered Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, a former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, in the state of Baja California Sur on Friday, according to Reuters. The gunman shot Arellano Félix in the head and chest at a family gathering at the Cabo San Lucas resort and subsequently fled the scene in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

According to a spokesman for state prosecutors, unconfirmed rumors indicated that the killer had two accomplices. Authorities are investigating whether the gunman had ties to organized crime. No motive was announced and no arrests have been made.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, 63, was the oldest brother of the Arellano Félix family which ran the Tijuana Cartel, a drug gang featured in the 2000 Hollywood film “Traffic”. A gang known for smuggling cocaine and marijuana among other crimes, the Tijuana Cartel once reigned as one of the top drug gangs in Mexico before suffering the deaths and captures of several leaders, the Telegraph reports.

"The Tijuana Cartel has been completely dismantled, with all of its leaders in prison either in the United States or in Mexico," Raul Benítez, an expert in drug trade from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told the newspaper. Several of Arellano Félix's brothers have been arrested, while his younger brother Ramon died in a shootout with police in 2002.

Arellano Félix spent more than 14 years in prison for drug-related offences following his arrest in 1993. According to The Huffington Post, "Francisco may not have been one of the family's more influential members: He was serving time in prisons in both the U.S. and Mexico for drug charges during much of the cartel's heyday."

Arellano Félix was extradited to the United States in 2006 for allegedly selling drugs to undercover law enforcement in 1980. Two years later Arellano Félix was granted parole and deported back to Mexico. An official stated that Arellano Félix was not wanted by authorities at the time of his death.