A top lieutenant for the Sinaloa cartel claims that for years DEA agents allowed the drug trafficking organization "to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels" as reported by Diana Washington Valdez for the El Paso Times.
Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla a/k/a El Vicentillo was extradited to the United States following his March 2009 arrest in an exclusive neighborhood of Mexico City, and he made the explosive allegations this week in a pretrial court filing which states that just prior to his arrest "he and a top cartel lawyer met at a Mexico City hotel with two DEA agents, and were told they were immune from prosecution" as reported by Dane Schiller for the San Antonio Express.
According to Zambada the cooperative relationship between the DEA and Sinaloa cartel was struck in 2004 by Mexican attorney Humberto Loya Castro in order to avoid his prosecution on a 1995 indictment and further to protect reputed boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman as reported by the Latin American Herald Tribune. Indeed, in 2008 the charges were dropped against Loya Castro, and "the presumption was that he'd been collaborating with U.S. prosecutors on bringing Mexican drug traffickers to justice" as reported by Tim Johnson for McClatchy.
Zambada is the son of Ismael Zambada Garcia, another reputed top dog in the Sinaloa cartel, whom he claims also enjoys immunity pursuant to the agreement with U.S. authorities.
Both gangsters and politicians in Mexico long have suspected that the Sinaloa cartel was getting a pass from law enforcement. For example, last June Congressman Manuel Clouthier stated "it is obvious that in Sinaloa there is a pact" as then reported by Alexandra Olson for The Associated Press: "'It has been a safe state for organized crime to live there and work there and develop with total tranquility,' he charges."
The trial against Zambada is proceeding in a federal court in Chicago, IL, and the judge has ordered the government to respond to the allegations by September 11.
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