A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is.
It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.
The explosive allegations are being made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator.” He was extradited to the Chicago last year to face federal drug charges.
Zambada-Niebla claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 — during both Fast and Furious and Bush-era gunrunning operations — as long as the intel kept coming.
This pending court case against Zambada-Niebla is being closely monitored by some members of Congress, who expect potential legal ramifications if any of his claims are substantiated. The trial was delayed but is now scheduled to begin on Oct. 9.
Zambada-Niebla is reportedly a close associate of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the son of Ismael “Mayo” Zambada-Garcia, both of which remain fugitives, likely because of the deal made with the DEA, federal court documents allege.
Based on the alleged agreement ”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,” states a motion for discovery filed in U.S. District Court by Zambada-Niebla’s attorney in July 2011.
A source in Congress, who spoke to TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity, said that some top congressional investigators have been keeping “one eye on the case.” Another two members of Congress, both lead Fast and Furious Congressional investigators, told TheBlaze they had never even heard of the case.
One of the Congressmen, who also spoke to TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity because criminal proceedings are still ongoing, called the allegations “disturbing.” He said Congress will likely get involved once Zambada-Niebla’s trial has concluded if any compelling information surfaces.
“Congress won’t get involved in really any criminal case until the trial is over and the smoke has cleared,” he added. “If the allegations prove to hold any truth, there will be some serious legal ramifications.”
Earlier this month, two men in Texas were sentenced to 70 and 80 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to export 147 assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico’s Los Zetas cartel. Compare that to the roughly 2,000 firearms reportedly “walked” in Fast and Furious, which were used in the murders of hundreds of Mexican citizens and U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry, and some U.S. officials could potentially face jail time if they knowingly armed the Sinaloa Cartel and allowed guns to cross into Mexico.
If proven in court, such an agreement between U.S. law enforcement agencies and a Mexican cartel could potentially mar both the Bush and Obama administrations. The federal government is denying all of Zambada-Niebla’s allegations and contend that no official immunity deal was agreed upon.
To be sure, Zambada-Niebla is a member of one of the most ruthless drug gangs in all of Mexico, so there is a chance that he is saying whatever it takes to reduce his sentence, which will likely be hefty. However, Congress and the media have a duty to prove without a reasonable doubt that there is no truth in his allegations. So far, that has not been achieved.
Zambada-Niebla was reportedly responsible for coordinating all of the Sinaloa Cartel’s multi-ton drug shipments from Central and South American countries, through Mexico, and into the United States. To accomplish this, he used every tool at his disposal: Boeing 747 cargo planes, narco-submarines, container ships, speed boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers and automobiles. But Guzman and Zambada-Niebla’s overwhelming success within the Sinaloa Cartel was largely due to the arrests and dismantling of many of their competitors and their booming businesses in the U.S. from 2004 to 2009 — around the same time ATF’s gun-walking operations were in full swing. Fast and Furious reportedly began in 2009 and continued into early 2011.
According Zambada-Niebla, that was a product of the collusion between the U.S. government and the Sinaloa Cartel.
The claims seem to fall in line with statements made last month by Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico who said U.S. agencies ”don’t fight drug traffickers,” instead “they try to manage the drug trade.”