A US federal judge has rejected claims made by Sinaloa Cartel operative that he acted as a US informant, though the case will likely continue to feed rumors of US authorities "favoring" certain Mexican drug gangs.
Jesus Vicente Zambada, the son of Sinaloa Cartel boss Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, who is accused of trafficking cocaine and heroin into the US, filed court documents last year claiming that US authorities allowed the cartel to traffic narcotics and granted him immunity from prosecution on the grounds that he provided intelligence on rival Mexican drug gangs.
This agreement was allegedly borne out of a meeting between Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and Sinaloa Cartel attorney Humberto Loya in 1998.
Chicago Federal Judge Ruben Castillo ruled on Thursday, however, that after a review of classified documents, he found no details regarding US agents having granted immunity to Zambada at any point, adding that Zambada has "produced no affidavits or other evidentiary documentation in support of his motion," reported the Associated Press.
Zambada was arrested in March 2009 and extradited the following year to a Chicago jail. He is currently being held in Michigan with his trial due to begin in October this year.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the judge has rejected Zambada's claims, it is unlikely to decrease scrutiny over alleged ties between US authorities and the Sinaloa Cartel. A Newsweek report from January this year claimed that three men -- among them Humberto Loya -- who used to work under Sinaloa leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, had collaborated with the DEA and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All three had apprently fed the agencies intelligence to target the Sinaloan's rivals, including the Juarez and Tijuana Cartels.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has also come out in recent weeks claiming that the US is negotiating a surrender with Guzman, something that could undermine President Felipe Calderon's government, given its rejection of the tactic and assertion that Mexican security forces are on the verge of capturing the cartel leader.
As InSight Crime has noted, the very nature of large scale anti-narcotics work means that cutting deals with traffickers may sometimes be a necessary evil in order to build cases. Though Vicente Zambada could be using the claims of immunity in order to detract attention away from his crimes, there exists the very real possibility that collaboration could have taken place at some point.