Trial Exposes Odd Ties in Mexico Drug War
Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis
The upcoming Chicago trial of the son of one of Mexico's top drug lords has broken all the rules. This time, Jesús Zambada Niebla is going mano a mano with U.S. prosecutors, with both sides trading allegations that have raised eyebrows across the U.S.-Mexico borderIn pre-trial motions, Mr. Zambada alleges the U.S. government lets the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful criminal organization, to import tons of illegal drugs into the U.S. in exchange for information on other cartels.
Mr. Zambada, 36 years old, is no ordinary accuser: He is the son of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, the co-head of the Sinaloa cartel alongside Mexico's most famous trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán.
Mr. Zambada doesn't deny drug trafficking. Rather, he says he did so with the permission of U.S. drug-enforcement agents and was promised immunity as part of an agreement with the U.S. government.
In Chicago, where in 2009 he was again indicted for drug trafficking after his extradition to the U.S., Mr. Zambada is also accused of trying to obtain rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bazookas, which U.S. officials allege were to be used on attacks on U.S. and Mexican government installations. "I want to blow things up," Mr. Zambada said, according to testimony in a court filling from another confidential informant.
Meth Bust Involving Members of La Familia
| Borderland Beat Reporter Buggs
Feds Announce (Another) Local Meth Bust Involving Members of La Familia Drug Cartel.
By Robert Wilonsky
In October of 2009, James Capra, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Dallas Division, invited media to a press conference so he could show off the massive haul from a long-in-the-works bust involving the Mexican drug cartel known as La Familia: 220 pounds of methamphetamine, 4.5 kilos of cocaine, $660,000 in cash and dozens of machine guns.
The feds and other law-enforcement officials said they'd nabbed some 1,100 people around the country during an operation known as Project Coronado; 84 of them were taken into custody in and around Dallas, a major distribution hub for drugs brought in from Mexico -- Michoacan, specifically, La Familia's home base. Six months later, Ricardo Hernandez-Cruz, a.k.a "Rica," a 37-year-old who handled the merch, pleaded guilty to meth trafficking.
A Dallas federal grand jury this week indicted 16 more members of La Familia, all of whom were arrested December 14 in Tyler and Dallas. Some were nabbed in rural Tyler, at the so-called "ranch" of Sergio Renteria Echeverria, otherwise known as "Trippa," the 30-year-old who Capra and U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña say is the "cell-head" who "concealed large amounts of drugs" on the premises. They also say he maintains another residence in Richardson, on Midway Drive, which the feds will seize if he's convicted.
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