Wednesday Open Thread:

Busy work day.

Turkey has taken over Jarabulus in Syria. The U.S. aided the effort with airstrikes. According to Twitter analysts, ISIS had already gone, so there wasn't much of a fight. More like they turned the town over. Still, it's the first time Turkey used its own forces for a military operation against ISIS in Syria.

Looks like it was co-leader of Sinaloa Ismael "Mayo" Zambada-Garcia (background here) who conducted the negotiations to free El Chapo's son. Most media now agree both sons were kidnapped. It's still unclear who was behind the kidnappings and what kind of ransom was paid, money or ceding of territory or neither. [More...]

El Mayo has been under U.S. Indictment in the U.S. since 2003.

Two of Mayo's sons are in the U.S. awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate (Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla and Seraphin Zambada) and a third, Ismael Zambada Imperial aka Mayito, was approved for extradition to San Diego in November. Mayo's brother was extradited in 2012, four years after his arrest in Mexico. He was indicted in Brooklyn in 2009 (along with El Chapo and Mayo and others). He too is reportedly cooperating. (His first son was found hanged while in witness protection and his second son was killed in December, 2015.)

So while Mexico and its helper-buddy the DEA can't locate the six kidnapped men, the fugitive El Mayo, age 67, who has never been arrested, successfully negotiates the kidnapped sons' release right under their noses and scoots them back home to Sinaloa, where they have enough protection in the rugged terrain to avoid the clutches of the DEA and PGR.

I wonder whether Mexico and the DEA agreed the bloodbath that would result if either son was killed was not worth it, and it was better to let Mayo work with the responsible parties and leave the captures of all of them for another day.

There seem to now be three theories of whose responsible: CJNG, or the son of Alfredo Beltran-Leyva (Alfredo Beltran Guzman, nephew of El Chapo) or Mini-Lic (Damaso Lopez Serrano, son of Damaso Lopez Nunez, aka "El Licenciado", the former prison official who helped El Chapo escape from prison in 2001 and then joined the cartel, who is wanted on a 2011 Indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia). Was it about territory or just a clan fight? No one knows yet. Given the outcome, it will probably not weaken Sinaloa.

Alfredo Beltran-Leyva is facing a government request for a life sentence on a guilty plea, and the forfeiture of $10 billion. If he had any information on others to cooperate with, and was inclined to do so, I think he would have done it by now. Maybe his son's motives in attacking El Chapo's mother's house (and if he played a role in the kidnappings) is trying to make El Chapo's sons crawl out from the woodwork and retaliate so they get captured and his father gets the credit -- with a sentence of less than life. Just speculation on my part. Here are some photos of the younger Beltran-Guzman's 2013 "narco-camp. Here's a government filing on the evidence it intended to introduce against Alfredo Beltran-Leyva had he gone to trial.

That's all I've got time for today, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    More details of US swimmer scandal (none / 0) (#2)
    by McBain on Wed Aug 24, 2016 at 02:00:35 PM EST
    As new details of the encounter continue to emerge, legal experts in Rio say the security guards' actions merit an investigation, claiming they might have broken Brazilian law by threatening the swimmers with guns as they demanded payment.

    This is from the previous open thread, I didn't realize a new one had opened. Sounds like a shakedown of James Feigen

    "I was eventually given two options. Option one was to remain in Brazil while the police continued the investigation. This process was estimated to take at least a month and I would be required to remain in Brazil. Option two was pay a fine of R$100,000.00 ($31,250.00 USD) for the return of my passport and perform fifteen days of community service.....

    Finally, all parties agreed to a R$35,000.00 ($10,800.00 USD) fine. This fine was to be paid within three days. If it was not paid, the fine would be increased back to R$150,000.00.

    Why did Feigen have to pay anything to get his passport and leave the country?  It's beginning to look like the swimmers didn't really do anything terribly wrong.  

    When (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Aug 24, 2016 at 02:10:39 PM EST
    ...in your opinion, did a white guy ever do anything wrong?

    Nothing wrong? (none / 0) (#4)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 24, 2016 at 02:34:34 PM EST
    Uri*ating on the station property, and breaking down a door?

    Ugly American stuff.

    Basically treating Rio like their own toilet because they are white guys from America.


    I do agree that the swimmer (none / 0) (#5)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 24, 2016 at 02:36:34 PM EST
    stuck with the bill should sue Ryan Lochte for indemnity.

    Lochte fled, leaving his teammates to twist in the wind.  His public comments brought much grief on his fellow swimmers.