Zambada Niebla’s Plea Deal, Chapo Guzman’s Capture May Be Key to an Unfolding Mexican Purge

NarcoNews: History & Court Pleadings Help to Connect the Dots Mainstream Media Is Missing

Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of a powerful co-founder of Mexico’s Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization, has agreed to tell the US government everything he knows about his alleged partners in crime, their operations and enablers, US authorities announced earlier this week.

The details of his cooperation are spelled out in a recent plea deal signed by Zambada Niebla, himself considered a key figure in the Sinaloa organization run by his father Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and the recently capture Joaquin Guzman Loera (aka Chapo Guzman).

The plea agreement, which can be read in its entirety at this link, rewards Zambada Niebla for his cooperation by reducing a potential life prison sentence to as little as 10 years (including time served he could be out in roughly five years) and by offering protection for his family members. However, the US government will only honor the deal if it deems Zambada Niebla is truthful and helpful in providing evidence that advances investigations and cases against the Sinaloa organization and its leadership.

The mainstream media has jumped all over this latest development in the Zambada Niebla criminal case — litigation that Narco News explored in-depth and exclusively as part of a 10-story package published some three years ago, long before US media credited a Mexican publication with breaking the same story this past January.

But the commercial media coverage of the Zambada Niebla plea pact, influenced by a need to generate online page clicks and revenue, with few exceptions, excludes critical context, and frankly, common-sense analysis.

So, in an effort to correct the distortions served up by the commercial media in their coverage of the case, Narco News will make an attempt here to put a few critical elements in focus.

Chapo’s Fall

The first of these elements is the need to consider the allegations raised by Zambada Niebla (and proven as factual in the court pleadings) concerning the relationship between the US government and the Sinaloa organization leadership — in particular El Mayo and Chapo Guzman — who was captured in late February without a shot being fired as part of an “arranged” arrest, according to a former drug agent who still has deep contacts in Mexico.

“Chapo [Guzman] was protected by Mexican federal agents and military, by the Mexican government,” claims retired US special agent Hector Berrellez, who previously served as DEA’s chief investigator in Mexico and played a lead role in tracking down slain DEA agent Kiki Camarena’s murderers. “He was making [Mexican President Enrique] Peña Nieto look bad, and so the government decided to withdraw his security detail. Chapo was told he could either surrender, or he would be killed.”

In terms of context, it is important to point out that among the admissions Zambada Niebla made as part of his plea deal is that he “participated … in the paying of bribes to Mexican law enforcement to promote the Sinaloa narcotics trafficking business.”

“On multiple occasions,” the plea pleadings state, “(Zambada Niebla) arranged for the payment of bribes to local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in the Mexican government, for the purpose of facilitating the Sinaloa Cartel’s narcotics trafficking business.”

So, it doesn’t take much more than common sense to conclude that Zambada Niebla provided the names of all those officials to US prosecutors as part of his cooperation, thereby exposing the entire Sinaloa payola infrastructure, including those within the Mexican government being paid off to provide protection to Chapo Guzman. And in the real world, the way it works, is that once those people are exposed to the light of day, they are compromised and can no longer conduct business as usual. They become pawns of higher powers, who now have leverage over them.

Berrellez’ contention, then, that Chapo Guzman’s security detail was “withdrawn,” by the Mexican government, now led by PRI Party leader President Enrique Peña Nieto, doesn’t sound so absurd in the context of this network of Sinaloa government operatives being exposed.  

If the corrupt Mexican officials outed by Zambada Niebla worked for Peña Nieto’s administration, or were part of opposition (or some combination of both, as is more likely) it is quite plausible that the US government could use that information to exert enough backroom political pressure in Mexico to shut down Chapo Guzman’s protection network. That would leave the Sinaloa’s chief capo with few options other than to go on the run, hiding out like a rat in a hole, or to cut the best deal he could with Peña Nieto’s regime and surrender — hoping for a change in the political tide down the road.

For those who might find such a fate improbable for a powerful crime boss like Chapo Guzman, take note that a similar scenario previously played out in the 1990s with another powerful mob capo, Whitey Bulger.

Bulger, who headed Boston’s Winter Hill Gang while also working as an FBI informant, had allegedly dirtied up more than a dozen FBI agents and even more local police officers at the height of his reign as a crime boss.

Bulger disappeared in 1995, eluding service of a pending arrest warrant that stemmed from an investigation by a DEA task force — which purposely excluded the FBI because the agency’s corrupt involvement with Bulger had come to light by that time.

However, even the exclusion of the FBI wasn’t enough, since Bulger was was still tipped off by a crooked FBI agent that he was about to be arrested. Bulger chose to flee, but was finally captured in 2011, after being on the lam for some 16 years — a fate Chapo Guzman appears to have avoided.

Peeling Back the Onion

But there is yet another layer to the intrigue to Zambada Niebla’s story that the US commercial media has ignored, and that revolves around Zambada Niebla's allegations, made in court pleadings, concerning a Mexican attorney named Humberto Loya Castro —who is described in US legal documents as “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo)."

Loya Castro’s name surfaces in legal pleadings filed in US federal court in Chicago by Zambada Niebla — whose journey through the wasteland of US justice began when he was arrested by Mexican soldiers in Mexico City in March 2009 immediately after meeting with DEA agents at a hotel. He was later extradited, in February 2010, to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.

Zambada Niebla claims in hislegal pleadings that “sometime prior to 2004 [actually beginning in 1998], and continuing through the time period covered in the [current] indictment [against him], the United States government entered into an agreement with Loya [Castro] and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, including [El] Mayo and Chapo [Guzman].”

“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya [Castro], was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government,” Zambada Niebla alleges in his court pleadings. “In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya [Castro], not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them.”

The stunning allegations, published first by Narco News, prompted the US government to play the national-security card in Zambada Niebla’s case. US government prosecutors succeeded in getting the judge in the case to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).

CIPA, enacted some 30 years ago, is designed to keep a lid on the public disclosure in criminal cases of classified materials, such as those associated with CIA or other US covert operations. The rule requires that notice be given to the judge in advance of any move to introduce classified evidence in a case so that the judge can determine if it is admissible, or if another suitable substitution can be arranged that preserves the defendant's right to a fair trial.

US government pleadings filed in Zambada Niebla’s case confirm that Loya Castro was a DEA cooperating source for some 10 years while also working for the Sinaloa organization. It is clear from the US government’s court filings that Loya Castro’s dealing with the US government also were known to the leadership of the Sinaloa organization, including Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada, given that Loya Castro actually met with Zambada Niebla’s attorneys in Mexico City, with the knowledge of his father, Ismael, sometime in 2010.

The purpose of that meeting, in part, was to discuss the nature of Loya Castro’s cooperation with the US government as part of an effort to develop a legal strategy for Zambada Niebla’s US criminal case.

Narco News’ law enforcement sources contend that given his importance as a foreign intelligence source, Loya Castro likely was also employed in a dual role as a CIA asset.

As a result of Zambada Niebla’s plea deal — signed in April 2013 but only made public earlier this week — any chance of the full extent of the US government’s complicity with the Sinaloa organization’s leadership ever becoming public via a trial is now deep sixed.

And for those who doubt that there is any chance that individuals like Loya Castro, or even Chapo Guzman, might have been employed as CIA assets, while at the same time getting favorable treatment from the DEA for being informants, then a little history lesson is in order, because that is precisely the role Manuel Noriega, former military leader of Panama, played for the CIA and DEA in the 1980s, prior to falling from grace and being arrested in the wake of the US military invasion of Panama in 1989.

The Noriega Connection

In 1987, then-DEA administrator Jack Lawn penned a letter to Noriega that stated, in part: “The DEA has long welcomed our close association and we stand ready to proceed jointly against international drug traffickers whenever the opportunity arises.” In early 1988, after Noriega’s indictment in the US, Congress and Justice Department officials accused DEA of giving the Panamanian dictator a free pass on his narco-trafficking activities while using him to help make cases against other narco-traffickers, charges reported in the New York Times at the time.

A July 1999 appeals-court ruling in the Noriega criminal case also reveals that the CIA had an intimate relationship with the Panamanian dictator. However, the appeals-court ruling let stand the trial court’s decision to conceal the nature of that relationship. CIPA also was invoked in Noriega’s trial by the way — seemingly a national-security cloak that has long been used successfully to conceal reality from the American people, with little regard to accountability on the part of those invoking it…


To read further on this and more background visit Narco News Here.

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  1. I guess they expect everyone to just forget that the US government is in partnership with these cartels? Like their smuggling guns to the cartels was really some “operation” to somehow catch them, or hurt their operations. This is a show trial. How can it be anything else? Its like when the government says they are going to “look into” the criminal acts that Wall Street has committed. How can they prosecute the people who own them?

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