The “Fast and Furious” plot has thickened. Described as the “Logistics Coordinator” for the Mexican Drug Cartel Sinaloa, Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla who is being held by the U.S. and faces federal drug charges claims that the U.S. government has been working with the Sinaloa Cartel since 2004. He claims that the U.S. agreed to work with the Sinaloa Cartel in a divide and conquer strategy aimed at first taking out rival Cartels. The U.S. is said to have knowingly supplied at least 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel through operation Fast and Furious, contributing to the deaths of at around 3,000 Mexicans including law enforcement officers, and American Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The alleged deal with the U.S. was that if they provide weapons to the Sinaloa Cartel, and allow a certain amount of drugs to cross the border, then the Cartel would inform on rival Drug Cartels, and provide information about dissemination of drugs inside the United States. This information comes as House Republicans Monday filed a civil lawsuit to again try to extract documents from Attorney General Eric Holder (Full Article) and President Obama (who exerted executive privilege blocking the release of documents pertaining to the gun walking debacle). Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla would also like documents made available for his trial, which he claims should be thrown out due to the deal he had with U.S. authorities who reportedly offered immunity. These documents have so far been denied to Zambada-Niebla, as authorities claim it is classified information, but assured him that the information would not help his case anyway (Full Article).
His attorney stated the following:
”the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of defendant’s father, Ismael Zambada-Niebla and ‘Chapo’ Guzman, were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States and were also protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels which helped Mexican and United States authorities capture or kill thousands of rival cartel members.”
Obviously a ranking member of a major drug cartel is not the most reliable source, but there are a number of facts which seem to give his story credibility.
U.S. officials have previously acknowledged working with the Sinaloa Cartel through another informant, Humberto Loya-Castro. He is also allegedly a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel as well as a close confidant and lawyer of “El Chapo” Guzman.
Loya-Castro was indicted along with Chapo and Mayo in 1995 in the Southern District of California in a massive narcotics trafficking conspiracy (Case no. 95CR0973). The case was dismissed in 2008 at the request of prosecutors after Loya became an informant for the United States government and subsequently provided information for years.
In 2005, “the CS (informant Loya-Castro) signed a cooperation agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California,” states an affidavit filed in the Zambada-Niebla case by Loya-Castro’s handler, DEA agent Manuel Castanon.
So there is at least some truth to what Zambada-Niebla claims, based on the information about his colleagues and their ties to the American government. The gun running operations apparently started under George W. Bush and were continued well into Barack Obama’s Presidency, only stopping in early 2011 after the death of Brian Terry. Further suggestion of U.S. involvement with the drug cartels comes from the spokesman for the Mexican state Chihuahua, Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, who said last month that the United States Officials “Don’t fight drug traffickers, they try to manage the drug trade” (Full Article).
What may shed more light on the situation is if the Court case brought against Eric Holder proves fruitful, and documents detailing operation Fast and Furious are released. Then the supposed involvement of various agencies of the American government will either be confirmed or debunked. Of course depending on the outcome, President Obama might have some explaining to do about why exactly he asserted executive privilege over documents that involve this massive scandal.
Members of Congress are reportedly keeping an eye on the court case against Zambada-Niebla, and have promised to get involved after the case if any compelling information surfaces.