Posts Tagged ‘Sinaloa 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.


New and troubling motive for Team Obama’s illegal gunrunning scheme

August 11, 2011

Why did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) let criminals buy firearms, smuggle them across the Mexican border and deliver them into the hands of vicious drug cartels? The ATF claims it launched its now-disgraced Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 to catch the “big fish.” Fast and Furious was designed to stem the “Iron River” flowing from American gun stores into the cartels’ arsenals. The bureau says it allowed gun smuggling so it could track the firearms and arrest the cartel members downstream. Not true.

During the course of Operation Fast and Furious, about 2,000 weapons moved from U.S. gun stores to Mexican drug cartels – exactly as intended.

In congressional testimony, William Newell, former ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division, testified that the Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were “full partners” in Operation Fast and Furious. Mr. Newell’s list left out the most important player: the CIA. According to a CIA insider, the agency had a strong hand in creating, orchestrating and exploiting Operation Fast and Furious.

The CIA’s motive is clear enough: The U.S. government is afraid the Los Zetas drug cartel will mount a successful coup d’etat against the government of Felipe Calderon.

Founded by ex-Mexican special forces, the Zetas already control huge swaths of Mexican territory. They have the organization, arms and money needed to take over the entire country.

Former CIA pilot Robert Plumlee and former CIA operative and DEA Director Phil Jordan recently said the brutally efficient Mexican drug cartel has stockpiled thousands of weapons to disrupt and influence Mexico’s national elections in 2012. There’s a very real chance the Zetas cartel could subvert the political process completely, as it has throughout the regions it controls.

In an effort to prevent a Los Zetas takeover, Uncle Sam has gotten into bed with the rival Sinaloa cartel, which has close ties to the Mexican military. Recent court filings by former Sinaloa cartel member Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, currently in U.S. custody, reveal that the United States allowed the Sinaloas to fly a 747 cargo plane packed with cocaine into American airspace – unmolested.

The CIA made sure the trade wasn’t one-way. It persuaded the ATF to create Operation Fast and Furious – a “no strings attached” variation of the agency’s previous firearms sting. By design, the ATF operation armed the Mexican government’s preferred cartel on the street level near the American border, where the Zetas are most active.

Operation Fast and Furious may not have been the only way the CIA helped put lethal weapons into the hands of the Sinaloa cartel and its allies, but it certainly was an effective strategy. If drug thugs hadn’t murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with an ATF- provided weapon, who knows how many thousands more guns would have crossed the U.S. border?

To be sure, Operation Fast and Furious suited the ATF’s needs. It was all too willing to let guns walk to increase its power, prestige and budget in Washington. It actively recruited so-called straw purchasers and happily used American gun dealers as pawns. And it was only one agency in a mosaic of federal agencies helping the CIA actualize its covert plans.

The fact that Operation Fast and Furious was part of the CIA’s black-bag job in Mexico does not excuse the ATF for violating the very federal laws it was created to enforce; for contributing to the deaths of hundreds of innocent citizens, including a Border Patrol agent trying to live up to his oath; or for being unrepentant, uncooperative and unresponsive to the wishes of the American people for honesty, integrity and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.

Nor should the FBI get a free pass for subverting the criminal-background-check system designed to prevent illegal firearms purchases. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department – all major players in the CIA’s grand schemes – should not escape scrutiny, either. In fact, we should not shrug off the activities of any of our federal agencies that broke the law on the Sinaloa’s – and thus the Mexican government’s – behalf.

The Obama administration clearly thinks the entire federal government should help keep the profoundly corrupt Calderon government in power – no matter what. If that means sending lawyers, guns and money to unconscionable criminals, so be it. In this, Obama officials are wrong.

By choosing sides in a brutal war between opposing criminal syndicates rather than sealing our southern border, the Obama administration is fueling brutality and carnage and killing any hope of Mexican democracy. All that aside, either we are a nation of laws or we are not. If we live by our principles, Congress must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the people in the Obama administration who enabled this reckless gun scheme.

Posted on August 16, 2012

In the noise and confusion attending the extradition to the US  on the same day last week of three women involved in cocaine trafficking from South America,  questions raised by the family connection of one to the former President of Colombia went unanswered.

Did Alvaro Uribe okay the loading of 3.6 tons of cocaine at an airport he controlled in Rio Negro Colombia onto a “former” CIA Gulfstream (N987SA) jet from St. Petersburg Florida that crashed in the Yucatan in 2007?

Why did two successive U.S. Administrations lavish  billions of dollars to stop drug trafficking on a President of Colombia who was himself involved in the drug trade?

While any further emphasis of the ties to the drug business of a global elite of the parasitic rich seems unnecessary at this late date, all three of the extradicted women belong to the families of legendary drug-trafficking dynasties.

A Godfather, a Tiger, and Sandra Avila

Receiving the lion’s share of last week’s media attention was femme fatale Sandra Avila Beltran, known as the Queen of the Pacific, whose seductive persona has fascinated Mexico for much of the past decade.

Avila, who faces charges of money laundering and drug trafficking, belongs to the Beltran-Leyva  family, which has been involved in drug trafficking for three generations.

She is the niece of the man known as the original “Godfather” of Mexico’s drug business, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, currently in prison in Mexico.

Avila’s “claim to fame” is that she, and her significant other, Colombian Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, alias El Tigre, established ties between the Sinaloa Cartel and Colombia’s dominant Cartel del Valle.

“She used her physical attributes to do business and gain allies,” says noted journalist Ricardo Ravelo. “Her character is violent and manipulative; she has a very active social life, loves  parties, jewels and pleasures.”

Quietly extradicted, almost as an afterthought

By contrast, Dolly Cifuentes-Villa and her daughter Ana Maria Uribe Cifuentes flew in under the radar, almost unnoticed.

Yet, shockingly, both belong to the family of the former President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, and were actively involved in drug trafficking while Uribe was at the same time being paid $8 billion by the U.S.’s  Plan Colombia to pursue a war against that country’s cocaine traffickers.

She is charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute narcotics between 2003 through 2009, as well as laundering drug money through shell companies and real estate in Colombia, Panama, and Mexico.

She was either married or the long-time mistress—accounts differ—of Jaime Uribe, Alvaro Uribe’s brother. Their daughter, Ana Maria, also a part of the family business, is Alvaro Uribe’s niece.

Like Sandra Avila, Dolly Cifuentes’ dynastic ties to drug trafficking go far beyond her marriage to the brother of former President Alvaro Uribe.

She is the sister of a clan of drug trafficking Cifuentes Villa brothers, led, until his 2007 assassination, by Francisco Cifuentes, known as “Don Pancho,” who cut the historic deal with Sandra Avila’s assistance, to distribute Columbian cocaine into the U.S. through Mexico with Sinaloa Cartel honcho El Chapo Guzman.

That deal, cut shortly after Guzman’s “escape” from prison while Vicente Fox was president of Mexico, has led to Mexico’s current horrific drug war, as rival Mexican cartels scramble for their share of Colombia’s business.

The tangled past of George W. Bush’s ‘great good friend’ Alvaro Uribe

If having close family members involved in drug trafficking was the first taint of corruption to besmirch the reputation of Alvaro Uribe, it might be possible to explain it by saying he is not responsible for the actions of others in his family.

If this were just the second time that charges of involvement in drug trafficking have been leveled against him, there might still be an innocent explanation, however implausible, that could be used.

But this is at least the the fourth time credible allegations of involvement in drug trafficking have been leveled against Uribe.

A declassified report made public in 1991 by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), directly linked then-senator Alvaro Uribe to Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel (as well as naming Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi as a trafficker).

The report referred to Uribe as “a Colombian politician dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high levels,” claiming Uribe was “a close personal friend” of Escobar’s.

Using US money to take out the competition

Then in 2007 another US intelligence report was leaked to the LA Times by a CIA official described as “unhappy that Uribe’s government had not been held to account by the Bush administration.”

According to this report, Uribe tasked his defense minister, General Mario Montoya, with leading a controversial counterinsurgency push in the city of Medellin in 2002 which relied heavily on the support of a right-wing paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which was itself involved in drug trafficking.

While Uribe’s rival cocaine barons in Colombia were being hunted, their coca sprayed, and their flights regularly interdicted, officials in both the US and Colombia turned a blind eye to Uribe-backed traffickers who the U.S. now says sent 500 tons of cocaine to the U.S.

According to a 2004 U.S. Government Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) indictment, the Norte del Valle cartel exported more than 1.2 million pounds – more than 500  tons – of cocaine worth in excess of $10 billion from Colombia to Mexico and ultimately to the United States for resale.

But the organization, according to a senior official of the National Police of Colombia who spoke to a Colombian journalist,  was not pursued between August 2002 and August 2010, during Uribe’s two terms in office.

In the past three years, say Colombian police, the Cifuentes Villa brothers’ Norte del Valle cartel, with operations in five countries, has sent 30 tons of cocaine into the United States.

Dolly Cifuentes’s story, which US officials will no doubt dissuade her from telling, makes clear that the $8 billion in Plan Colombia money was criminally wasted.

It presents a potentially major embarrassment to the US Government,  threatening the very premise behind America’s War on Drugs while raising the specter that the U.S.  is engaged in selective prosecution, favoring some drug traffickers while prosecuting others.

The War on Drugs, whose $40 billion a year price tag is footed by US taxpayers, benefits just a small group of insiders who are able to command the official complicity of their governments in their drug trafficking endeavors.

This would all be a huge scandal, if we had a free press.