He was arrested by Mexican police on 2 April 2009, but subsequently acquitted of money laundering charges, though charges of illegal possession of firearms kept him from gaining his freedom. After being found guilty of illegal arms possession, and paying a $16,000 USD fine, he was released on 17 December 2010, to the custody of Mexican federal police with new charges of money laundering.
According to a biography published by the Mexican newspaper El Universal, his father and head and founder of The Juarez Cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, had told Carrillo Leyva not to enter the drug trafficking business. Consistent with this, Carrillo sent his son to study at the best private universities of México, Switzerland, and Spain. Carrillo Leyva, however, paid no attention to his father's advice.