A high-ranking Mexican drug-cartel operative extradited to the United States claimed in a recent court filing that he was actually trafficking tons of cocaine on behalf of the American federal government, prompting a media frenzy in Latin America but almost no coverage in the U.S. press.
A federal indictment filed earlier this month alleges that Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, also known as “El Vicentillo,” served as a “logistical coordinator” for the notorious Sinaloa drug-trafficking cartel. Zambada is accused of allegedly participating in the importation into the United States of multiple tons of cocaine, as well as other related crimes.
But in a two-page filing with the federal court in Chicago, Zambada’s lawyers made a startling assertion that could have broad repercussions for the prosecution. According to the document, Zambada was actually operating under government authority on behalf of multiple U.S. law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, and even the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of the agents allegedly involved were even mentioned in the document.
“Public authority for the defendant’s acts began from at least on or about January 1, 2004 and continued to and included on or about March 19, 2009,” the court filing states. Zambada’s lawyers also noted that he may invoke “entrapment by estoppel” in his defense as well — essentially arguing that, at the very least, the feds actively led Zambada to believe that he was acting “pursuant to official authorization.”
After being arrested by the Mexican military in 2009, Zambada was transferred to the U.S. early last year to stand trial. He pled not guilty to conspiracy charges related to the importation and distribution of cocaine and heroin. But if convicted, Zambada could face life in prison.
A few American reporters, including Bill Conroy of NarcoNews, Fronteras Project’s Michel Marizco, and Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars, have covered the new allegations of government involvement. But while most U.S. media outlets failed to report the news, the court filing is making headlines all across Latin America.
“U.S. Agents Helped Drug Trafficking,” reads a headline about the case in a Mexican newspaper — one of many. “The United States Sponsors Drug Traffickers,” declares another, noting in the opening paragraph that the ATF was recently caught supplying weaponry to the cartels in Operation Fast and Furious. “DEA and FBI allowed ‘El Vicentillo’ to traffic drugs to the U.S.,” states a third. The outrage is intense.
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