FRANCISCO Rafael Arellano Felix had been living quietly since his release from prison in 2008 - his days as a flamboyant drugs capo, living among celebrities and sports stars, seemingly long gone. But on Friday his past caught up with him.
For a man who spent decades masking his drug trafficking with nightclubs, theatres and spectacular shows, perhaps it was fitting that he was killed at a party, by gunmen disguised as clowns.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Traffic, was gunned down by three men at a children's party in the Mexican tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas.
Two bands were entertaining the more than 100 guests, while some local newspapers reported that the party was attended by famous Mexican sports stars.
The gunmen, guests told police, approached him calmly then shot him in the head - with another bullet in the chest to finish him off.
"He was hit by two bullets, one in the body and one in the head," said Isai Arias, prosecutor for the Baja California region.
He was shot at around 8pm on Friday, in the Casa Oceano holiday resort complex, and relatives had identified the body, he added.
Photographs said to be of the scene showed a corpse covered in a blood-soaked sheet, lying on the floor of a grand dining room with tables covered in lurid blue satin. The gunmen, it is said, escaped in a waiting four-wheel drive vehicle.
His past had finally caught up with him.
Francisco Rafael, the eldest brother of the infamous Arellano Felix clan, which ran the Tijuana Cartel, was in his heyday head of the family that for 20 years controlled the most powerful smuggling route from Mexico into the United States. American authorities once described the seven well-dressed and well-spoken brothers as "dashing, multimillionaire, savage criminals".
Arellano Felix was one of 11 children born to a modest family in the Sinaloa region. Alongside his brothers he began by smuggling contraband into the US, before graduating to cocaine.
He also found time to form a band called Los Escorpiones – the scorpions – which played throughout the region. The animal became a symbol of Arellano Felix's, and he took to wearing a four-inch-long diamond-encrusted scorpion pendant around his neck.
To launder the funds through trafficking, he paid for theatre shows and cultural performances in Mazatalan, a sprawling coastal city in Baja California. He also ran what was billed as "the world's largest disco" – a club called Frankie Oh's, emblazoned with scorpion designs.
In an interview with El Noreste newspaper in 1992, he described himself as "a fearless businessman, who risks a huge amount without the fear of losing everything".
For decades, Arellano Felix was seen as untouchable – detained three times for drugs and gun offences, yet miraculously escaping each time. Many believed that the law enforcement officials were in his pay.
He is thought to have masterminded the assassination of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Posadas Ocampo, in 1993 – although authorities were never able to pin the high profile murder on him.
In 1990 Rocío del Carmen Lizárraga, the 18-year-old "Carnival Queen" of Mazatalan, disappeared. Her parents claimed she had been kidnapped; she later resurfaced as the wife of Arellano Felix.
"Wanted by Mexican police since 1978 and on the run from the American law enforcement agencies since 1980, Arellano Felix rubbed shoulders with film stars, television personalities and radio songstresses," said a feature on the drugs capo in Mexican magazine Proceso.
Arellano Felix was eventually captured in 1993, and sent to prison. In 2006 he was extradited to the US, but was released two years later for good behaviour and repatriated to Mexico where he was thought to be living quietly.
In his absence the power of the Tijuana Cartel had waned, with most of the Arellano Felix brothers either killed or arrested, and rival cartels taking over its territory.
"The Tijuana Cartel has been completely dismantled, with all of its leaders in prison either in the United States or in Mexico," said Raul Benítez, a drug trade expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
But Arellano Felix was not allowed to live quietly. His killing, said Mr Benítez, was likely to be the result of long-festering feuds "due to unpaid old debts, and old retributions."
Despite a huge police presence immediately after the shooting, no one has been arrested.