Mexico’s Sinoloa drug family has been caught in bed with Drug Enforcement Agents (DEA), according to an investigation by El Universal. From 2000-2012, the U.S. had a deal with the Sinoloa drug family and permitted the family to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs into the country in exchange for damaging information regarding rival cartels and guaranteed immunity to any pending drug related charges.
Juan “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinoloa family, is responsible for 80 percent of the drug activity in the Chicago area, with his omnipresence felt in the drug world and cities across the nation. Long standing allegations exist that Guzman, known as the most powerful drug dealer in the world, coordinates with U.S. authorities when planning his drug smuggling activities.
El Universal, a Venezuelan newspaper located in Caracas, was the first to report having court documents proving U.S. officials were involved in Mexico’s Sinoloa drug smuggling activities. According to the court documents, corroborating testimony exists from a Justice Department official and a Drug and Law Enforcement agent regarding the governments knowledge of the drug smuggling.
The U.S. District Court in Chicago examined court documents regarding the arrest of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla. Zambada-Niebla was named the alleged “logistics coordinator” of the Sinaloa drug smuggling operation. Zambada-Niebla is the child of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, the Sinaloa leader.
The El Universal documents also proved DEA agents met with Sinoloa drug leaders over 50 times on Mexican soil without Mexican authorities knowledge in order to obtain information on rival gangs. If the rival gang information was true, the DEA guaranteed a bevy of promises, including immunity of any pending charges against members of the Sinaloa gang. The operation was authorized by DEA director of operations for the region, David Gaddis.
Manuel Castanon, the DEA agent involved, testified before the U.S. District court. He stated that on March 17, 2009, he had a 30 minute meeting in a Mexico City motel room with Vincente Zambada-Niebla along with two other people, agent David Herrod of the DEA and Loya Castro, the Sinaloa gang’s lawyer, which Castanon had been working with since 2005. Castanon claimed he represented the DEA during the meeting and that DEA officials were fully aware of his activities.
El Universal explained that the news report was based on over 100 U.S. and Mexico drug-enforment officers’ interviews, prisoners and experts. While rumors such an alliance was going on, El Universal was the first to include recorded statements regarding the arrangements made with the Sinaloa drug family from Drug Enforcement agent Manuel Castanon and prosecutor Patrick H. Hearn of the Justice Department. Zambada-Niebla’s lawyer argued his client was promised immunity from prosecution when he became an active player in providing the DEA with rival gang information. Zambada-Niebla had been arrested for drug-trafficking shortly after his DEA meeting.
University of Colombia senior professor, Edgardo Buscaglia, discussed with El Universal that a similar operation was conducted in Colombia during the 1980s, as well as in Afghanistan, Thailand, and Cambodia. Buscaglia stated this common practice breaks international law as well as adding fuel to an already well-fueled fire. The violence in Mexico is not a fire in need of fuel, especially when Mexico’s Sinoloa drug family was just caught in bed with the DEA.
By Deborah Baran