The Mexican Federation
Four organizations dominate the international drug trade in northern Mexico. Together with about a dozen smaller groups, they have been dubbed The Mexican Federation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and gross an estimated $10 to $30 billion annually in narcotics sales in the U.S. Family ties are important to the group, most of which can trace their lineage back decades to the cross-border smuggling of contraband such as stolen cars.


Currently the second most powerful cartel.
Leaders: Arellano-Felix brothers -- Benjamin, Ramon, Javier and Francisco (currently jailed in Mexico) -- who are the nephews of Guadalajara Cartel co-founder Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo.
Activities: Controls most of drug smuggling across the California border; has recently diversified to become one of the main suppliers of methamphetamine, consolidating its position through a violent turf war in San Diego.

Also known as the Caro Quintero organization; made up of remnants of the old Guadalajara Cartel, best known for the brutal 1985 torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.
Leaders/co-founders: Rafael Caro Quintero, under arrest. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, arrested in 1989, remains a major player from prison.
Acting leader: Miguel Caro Quintero, brother of Rafael. Activities: Among the first Mexican organizations to transport drugs for the Colombian kingpins. Main trafficking routes through Arizona border area known as "cocaine alley" with movements also coordinated through the Juarez Cartel in territory controlled by that group.

Currently the most powerful of the Mexican cartels.
Leader: Amado Carrillo Fuentes, about 40; took over in 1993. Shuns flamboyant lifestyle of his competitors, and is said to represent a new breed of kingpin who believes in compromising with rivals.
Activities: Carrillo Fuentes pioneered the use of Boeing 727s for bulk shipments of as much as 15 tons of cocaine between South America and northern Mexico. Cartel operates primarily through Juarez-El Paso and surrounding desert along the west Texas and New Mexico borders.

Once undisputed champ of the Mexican organizations. Cartel's fortunes began to fade about a year ago after its alleged kingpin, Juan Garcia Abrego, 51, had to go underground. He was arrested in January and deported to the United States, where he is standing trial in Houston.
Leader: Oscar Malherve, one of Abrego's top lieutenants and money-launderers.
Activities: Moves drugs primarily through the Texas border region, particularly Matamoros-Brownsville, and along the Gulf coastal shores.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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