Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has for a long time been one of the most elusive drug lords in Mexico. Presently facing numerous charges related to drug trafficking, money laundering and gun violations in the United States, his cartel’s operations were reportedly aided by the CIA and DEA. According to an investigation carried out by El Universal, the American government and El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel struck a deal between the years 2000 and 2012. Apparently, the United States let his cartel bring tons of drugs into the United States each year in exchange for information on rival Mexican organizations.
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This is according to court documents published by the site, and testimonies corroborated by a DEA agent and an official from the Justice Department. The information was released in court during the trial of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, El Chapo Guzman’s partner in the Sinaloa Cartel. The following was DEA agent Manuel Castanon’s statement about the deal.
“On March 17, 2009, I met for approximately 30 minutes in a hotel room in Mexico City with Vincente Zambada-Niebla and two other individuals — DEA agent David Herrod and a cooperating source [Sinaloa lawyer Loya Castro] with whom I had worked since 2005…. I did all of the talking on behalf of [the] DEA.”
Zambada-Niebla was arrested a few hours later by Mexican Marines for drug trafficking. Castanon and three other DEA agents are alleged to have visited Zambada soon after. This is when the Sinaloa Cartel operative expressed his willingness to collaborate. His lawyer, Loya Castro, brokered the deal. According to Steve Fraga, another DEA agent, information provided by Castro led to the seizure of about 23 tons of drugs from rival organizations. This is as reported by Business Insider.
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According to Zambada-Niebla’s revelation, the failed Operation Fast and Furious, which was designed to trace arms to Mexican cartels was part of the deal. The US government used it to arm the Sinaloa cartel to help it to take down rivals. In 2010, a Mexican foreign officer who spoke to Stratfor stated that there seemed to be evidence of the United States Government siding with El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel in an attempt to keep the violence in Mexico under control.
The collaboration between El Chapo Guzman’s organization, and the CIA and DEA, is believed to have stopped in 2012. The focus is said to have shifted to capturing El Chapo Guzman. The DEA and CIE are alleged to have been directly involved in his capture in 2014. The following is an excerpt from CNN detailing this.
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“‘In November, they arrested Serafin Zambada-Ortiz at the Nogales, Arizona, border crossing. He is the son of Guzman’s closest lieutenant, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, likely the Sinaloa chief’s heir apparent.
The arrests intensified in recent months, with each providing phones that led to a trove of new data that helped map associates in ever-closer touch with Guzman, U.S. officials familiar with the hunt said.
Agents from the DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Marshals Service have fed intelligence gleaned from wiretaps and informants to Mexican authorities for years.
Each cell phone led to dozens of others over time. “It went from phone to phone, just basic law enforcement,'”
Presently, the Sinaloa Cartel has been weakened by infighting and attacks by rival cartels, in particular the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, with El Chapo’s sons fighting to keep control. Just last month, they were apparently wounded after being ambushed, while attending a meeting organized by Damaso Lopez, one of the organization’s figures. Meanwhile, El Chapo has pled not guilty to charges brought against him, but if convicted could get life imprisonment.
[Featured Image by Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Getty Images]