An investigation by major Mexican newspaper El Universal has concluded that the United States government worked with the Sinaloa cartel from 2000 and 2012 as part of a divide and conquer strategy. In exchange for intel on rival cartels, the U.S. government allegedly allowed the cartel to smuggle billions of dollars worth of drugs.
The report seemingly aligns with claims made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the Sinaloa cartel’s “logistics coordinator” and son of cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
El Universal has published official court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.
DEA agent Manuel Castanon reportedly told the Chicago court that he met with Zambada-Niebla and two other people — DEA agent David Herrod and a cooperating source [Sinaloa lawyer Loya Castro] — for about 30 minutes in a Mexico City hotel room. Castanon said he had worked with them since 2005.
“I did all of the talking on behalf of [the] DEA,” the DEA agent said, according to the court documents.
Zambada-Niebla was arrested hours later by Mexican Marines on drug trafficking charges. Castanon and three other government agents allegedly visited Zambada-Niebla in prison. The cartel operative again “reiterated his desire to cooperate.”
Using court documents as evidence, El Universal reports that DEA agents met with high-level Sinaloa cartel officials more than 50 times since 2000. The relationship led to a “23-ton cocaine seizure” and other seizures from “various drug trafficking organizations,” according to former Justice Department prosecutor Patrick Hearn, who cited DEA special agent Steve Fraga.
He also said that Zambada-Niebla’s father wanted his son to cooperate with the U.S. government.
El Universal also talked to more than one hundred active and retired police officers, prisoners and other experts for its explosive report.
“The DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals and simultaneously built a network of informants who sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of charges in the U.S.,” the report adds.
Zambada-Niebla was extradited to Chicago in February 2010, where his lawyer argued that he was “immune from arrest or prosecution” due to his cooperation with U.S. federal agents.
As previously reported by TheBlaze, the “logistics coordinator” also argued in court that “Operation Fast and Furious” was part of the agreement to finance and arm the cartel in exchange for valuable information that would help the government take down its rival cartels.
The Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, reportedly supplies 80 percent of the drugs that enter Chicago and operates in various cities across the U.S.
The DEA did not comment on El Universal’s report.
Read TheBlaze’s detailed report on Zambada-Niebla’s claims here.
(H/T: Business Insider)