Sixty-four-year-old Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, otherwise known as “El Chapo,” is one of the most infamous drug cartel leaders of all time. He is the alleged leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel and is currently on trial in United States District Court for his suspected involvement in the smuggling of thousands of tons of illegal substances, conducting countless bribes, and other criminal activity. Who better to explain the inner-workings of the mind of such a notorious criminal than the son of one of his lieutenants? On Thursday, Vicente Zambada Niebla, 43-year-old son to “El Mayo” Ismael Zambada García, shocked the world as he betrayed his father’s organization in federal court, according to the New York Times.
Zambada testified against Loera for a grueling five hours. He started at the beginning, detailing how he was groomed to become a leader in his father’s criminal activity at a young age.
“I started realizing how everything was done,” he told the jurors. “And little by little, I started getting involved in my father’s business.”
The drug lord’s son became familiar with his father’s suppliers, partners, and even his assassins. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming one of El Chapo’s most trusted associates. During the trial, he provided insight into Loera’s shocking finances, saying that the funds allotted solely for bribery were a whopping $1 million a month. Those employed by the notorious leader made hefty sums themselves, an army general from the Mexican Defense department was provided with $50,000 a month from the cartel, according to Zambada.
The drug exchanges occurred nearly everywhere you can think of, including cars, planes, submarines, trains, even behind a truck towing frozen meat. Although seven other witnesses have testified against El Chapo since his arrest, not one of them gave as captivating and detailed a testimony.
Zambada’s involvement in his father’s drug cartel business ended in 2009 when he was arrested during an army operation in Mexico City. He was extradited to Chicago where he later plead guilty to a slew of drug trafficking charges. For five years he has has been awaiting his opportunity to testify against his father in court.
Zambada’s lengthy statement divulged some details surrounding his own criminal activity but focused primarily on the dark schemes of his Loera. Perhaps the most important question he was asked by the prosecutor was “What does your dad do for a living?”
He answered the inquiry quite simply, “My dad is the Sinaloa cartel’s leader,” Zambada said.