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The US government had a deal with Mexico’s most notorious drug cartel that allowed the gang to smuggle billions of dollars worth of illicit drugs in exchange for information on its rival groups for over a decade, according to published court documents. |
The Mexican newspaper El Universal published the documents, which showed that US authorities had an agreement with the Sinaloa drug cartel between 2000 and 2012.
According to written statements made by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and a US Department of Justice official in US District Court of Chicago, DEA agents met with top Sinaloa members over 50 times beginning in 2000.
“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 US,” the newspaper reported.The cooperation began after Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla - the son of a Sinaloa leader, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and the organization’s alleged “logistics coordinator” - agreed to cooperate with US authorities while in detention in a Mexican prison.
Zambada-Niebla’s attorney told the court that a lawyer for Sinaloa, Loya Castro, negotiated a deal with the US agents, which ensured that the drug cartel would hand over information on rival drug trafficking operations if the US authorities would dismiss its case against Castro. In addition, US officials would stop actively prosecuting Sinaloa’s top officials.
“The agents stated that this arrangement had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors,” Zambada-Niebla’s lawyer wrote to the court.
Following an extradition to Chicago in February 2010, Zambada-Niebla argued that he was “immune from arrest or prosecution” since he actively gave information to US federal agents.
The report comes as there have been years of allegations that Sinaloa leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is considered one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers, had coordinated his cartel’s activities with US authorities.
According to the DEA, the Sinaloa cartel annually supplies 80 percent of the heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine that enter the Chicago area at a value of USD 3 billion.