Posts Tagged ‘cartel’

From April 27, 2011

The “logistical coordinator” for a top Mexican drug-trafficking gang that was responsible for purchasing the CIA torture jet that crashed with four tons on cocaine on board back in 2007 has told the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago that he has been working as a U.S. government asset for years.

Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the top kingpins of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization. Niebla was arrested in Mexico in March 2009 and extradited to the United States to stand trial last February.

“The indictment pending against Zambada Niebla claims he served as the “logistical coordinator” for the “cartel,” helping to oversee an operation that imported into the U.S. “multi-ton quantities of cocaine … using various means, including but not limited to, Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, private aircraft … buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, and automobiles,” writes Narcosphere’s Bill Conroy.

In a two page court pleading filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, Niebla claims that he was working on behalf and with the authority of, “The U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”); and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”),” since January 1, 2004.

Niebla is also connected to the Gulfstream II jet that wrecked with four tons of cocaine on board on September 24, 2007. European investigators linked the plane’s tail number, N987SA, to past CIA “rendition” operations. The bill of sale for the Gulfstream jet, sold weeks before it crashed, listed the name of Greg Smith, a pilot who had previously worked for the FBI, DEA and CIA.

The plane was purchased by Niebla’s Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization through a syndicate of Colombian drug-traffickers that included a CIA asset named Nelson Urrego, according to another undercover CIA operative, Baruch Vega, who was involved in the deal.

“The Gulfstream II jet, according to Mexican authorities, was among a number of aircraft acquired by the Sinaloa drug organization via an elaborate money laundering scheme involving a chain of Mexican casa de cambios (currency exchange houses) overseen by alleged Sinaloa organization operative Pedro Alfonso Alatorre Damy, according to Mexican government andU.S. media reports,” writes Conroy.

Sinaloa bought the jet by wiring money through the U.S. banking giant Wachovia, now a subsidiary of Wells Fargo. “In total, nearly $13 million dollars went through correspondent bank accounts at Wachovia for the purchase of aircraft to be used in the illegal narcotics trade. From these aircraft, more than 20,000 kilograms of cocaine were seized,” states Wachovia’s deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Wachovia was forced to pay a penalty of around $160 million dollars for allowing the money to be laundered through its correspondent bank accounts.

“So, the criminal cases pending against alleged Colombian narco-trafficker Urrego, accused money-launderer Damy and Sinaloa organization logistics chief Zambada Niebla all appear to connect through the Gulfstream II cocaine jet at some level,” summarizes Conroy.

Another private aircraft that was full of cocaine crashed in New Mexico on Sunday morning, but the plane has yet to be identified.

In addition to smuggling narcotics into the United States, Niebla is also accused of obtaining weapons from the U.S. with the intent to use them to cause violence in Mexico City, leading to the murders of several innocent people. Despite the fact that the Obama administration has cited the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico as an excuse with which to attack the second amendment rights of Americans, it was recently revealed that the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed guns to be smuggled from the U.S. into the hands of Mexican drug lords under “Operation Fast and Furious”. President Obama later denied that he had any knowledge of the program.

Niebla’s assertion that he smuggled drugs from Mexico into the United States while working for the U.S. government adds further weight to the already voluminous body of evidence that confirms the CIA and U.S. banking giants are the top players in a global drug trade worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year, information made public by the likes of Gary Webb, who it was claimed committed suicide in 2004 despite the fact that he was found with two gunshot wounds to the head and after Webb himself had complained of death threats and “government people” stalking his home.

For more background information on the story, be sure to read Bill Conroy’s excellent article over at Narco News entitled Mexican Narco-Trafficker’s Revelation Exposes Drug War’s Duplicity.

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Leaked emails from the private U.S. security firm Stratfor cite a Mexican diplomat who says the U.S. government works with Mexican cartels to traffic drugs into the United States and has sided with the Sinaloa cartel in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.

Many people have doubted the quality of Stratfor’s intelligence, but the information from MX1—a Mexican foreign service officer who doubled as a confidential source for Stratfor—seems to corroborate recent claims about U.S. involvement in the drug war in Mexico.

Most notably, the reports from MX1 line up with assertions by a Sinaloa cartel insider that cartel boss Joaquin Guzman is a U.S. informant, the Sinaloa cartel was “given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago,” and Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for information used to take down rival cartels.

An email with the subject “Re: From MX1 — 2” sent Monday, April 19, 2010, to Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton says:

I think the US sent a signal that could be construed as follows:

“To the [Juárez] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the Juárez cartel]. Also note that [Ciudad Juárez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either [the Juárez cartel] gets in line or we will mess you up.”

In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner, and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis.

Bill Conroy of Narco News reports that MX1’s description matches the publicly available information on Fernando de la Mora Salcedo — a Mexican foreign service officer who studied law at the University of New Mexico and served at the Mexican Consulates in El Paso, Texas, and Phoenix.

In a June 13, 2010, email with the subject “Re: Get follow up from mx1? Thx,” MX1 states that U.S. and Mexican law enforcement sent their “signal” by discretely brokering a deal with cartels in Tijuana, just south of San Diego, Calif., which reduced the violence in the area considerably.

It is not so much a message for the Mexican government as it is for the Sinaloa cartel and[the Juárez cartel] themselves. Basically, the message they want to send out is that Sinaloa is winning and that the violence is unacceptable. They want the CARTELS to negotiate with EACH OTHER. The idea is that if they can do this, violence will drop and the governments will allow controlled drug trades.

The email went on to say that “the major routes and methods for bulk shipping into the US” from Ciudad Juárez, right across the border from El Paso, Texas, “have already been negotiated with US authorities” and that large shipments of drugs from the Sinaloa cartel “are OK with the Americans.”

In July a Mexican state government spokesman told Al Jazeera that the CIA and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers” as much as “try to manage the drug trade.” A mid-level Mexican official told Al Jazeera that based on discussions he’s had with U.S. officials working in Ciudad Juárez, the allegations were true.

WikiLeaks has published 2,878 out of what it says is a cache of 5 million internal Stratfor emails (dated between July 2004 and December 2011) obtained by the hacker collective Anonymous around Christmas.