NY Doubles Down on "El Chapo" Guzman

Some things I missed while focusing on ISIS the past few weeks: DOJ filed a huge Superseding Indictment against El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman Loera) and Ismael Zambada Garcia in a 2009 case in the Eastern District of New York. You can read it here. The two Sinaloa chiefs are now charged more than 20 murders of police officials and members of the Carillo Fuentes, Arellano-Felix and Zetas cartels; more than 170 drug counts ranging from 2003 to 2014, involving 465,000 kilograms of Cocaine, importation, drug offenses involving pot, heroin and meth, money laundering, use of firearms during the crimes and attempted murder. The Government is seeking to forfeit $14 billion in profits.

Why is the Government loading up on El Chapo, who remains in custody in Mexico and is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon? Or Zambada-Garcia who also has other pending indictments, in Illinois and the District of Colombia? It's not seeking the death penalty(Mexico won't extradite anyone where the death penalty is on the table and the last page of the indictment says no death penalty is sought). [More...]

One theory, from Insight Crime: Infighting between U.S. attorneys offices in Chicago and New York, both of which are trying to be first in line to prosecute the pair if ever extradited (which again, seems unlikely given Mexico's insistence El Chapo will first serve his time in Mexico on the sentence he was serving when he escaped in 1993, and any sentences from the 7 or more other cases pending.) Zambada-Garcia has not been arrested. One of his sons, Vicente Zambada-Niebla pleaded guilty in Illiniois and cooperated. Another son, Serafin, recently pleaded guilty in San Diego. His plea deal is restricted. Ismael's brother Jesus was charged in both the NY and DC cases, and pleaded guilty to both in D.C.

On a related note, long time fugitives (and Sinaloa rivals) Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, aka "El Viceroy" (Juarez cartel leader and brother of Lord of the Skies Amado Carrillo Fuentes) and Hector Beltran Leyva (Beltran Leyva cartel) were arrested in separate operations in Mexico this week. Decades ago, Zambada-Garcia, El Chapo and the Beltran Leyvas all worked for Amado Carrillo Fuentes, and later went their separate ways. El Chapo, Zambada-Garcia and the Beltran Lleyva brothers started the Sinaloa federation, along with some others who are now deceased. When a third Carrillo Fuentes brother, Rodolfo, was killed in 2004, Vicente blamed Chapo, and allegedly ordered the killing of El Chapo's brother in prison as revenge.

In 2008, Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed by police, and his brother Hector thought El Chapo had set him up. Hector then allegedly ordered the killing of El Chapo's son Edgar. The violence in Mexico increased significantly after that.

Who provided the intel to grab Beltran Leyva and Carrillo Fuentes? Supposedly, Carrillo Fuente's capture was the result on an 11 month investigation. Some say Carrillo Fuentes has not been an active cartel leader in recent years, and the Juarez cartel has lost a lot of power. Insight Crime says it reached out to other groups to commit its murders, like Barrio Azteca. As for Hector Beltran-Leyva, with the other Beltran Leyva brothers long in jail or dead, his group has also become less powerful.

Even though Carrillo Fuentes has a weighty indictment in El Paso, these two arrests seem more like cleaning up an old problem and the passing of an era, rather than tackling the current violence problem in Mexico.

Also possibly interesting: Hector Beltran was indicted in 2009 in the EDNY Chapo/Zambada case, but is not named in the new superseding Indictment. That Indictment is here.) He also has a 2004 indictment in the District of Colombia (Case no. 04-cr-00256.) More on the Betltran-Leyvas is here.

[In the spanish narconovela, El Senor de los Cielos, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes is named Chacorta, while Amado is called Aurelio. Season 2 ended a few weeks ago, with Aurelio in jail and Chacorta planning a breakout. But Telemundo and the actor playing Chacorta, Raul Mendez, could not come to terms for the next season and announced his departure from the series. Maybe Telemundo will reconsider now that the real Vicente has been arrested.]

And yes, there are many who believe Amado Carillo Fuentes is still alive. I was reading the 2010 federal sentencing transcript of Jesus Manuel Fierro-Mendez (Case No. 07-125, Doc. 885, Southern District of Indiana, available on PACER.) Fierro-Mendez was a corrupt Mexican police official on the Sinaloa payroll, who cooperated with the U.S. in exchange for a lighter sentence. (He was actually the Comandante in the Puma drug strike force in Juarez.) During the sentencing hearing, his lawyer, who is from El Paso and says he has represented many cartel members, tells the judge:

MR. HILL: Amado Carillo is not dead. Everybody thinks he's the Lord of the Skies, that guy? He's not dead. He has CIA protection. Everybody knows that. I mean, you know, third-graders know that.
THE COURT: Is he still in Mexico?
MR. HILL: No, ma'am. He's here.
THE COURT: In the United States?
MR. HILL: Yes, ma'am, with $13 billion. And at the same time, his brother, Vicente, who took over the cartel there, had a stepson that was involved in it. They called him Hota-elay (phonetic) or Cinco. His name is Jose Luis. Supposedly they killed him a month ago but, you know, they have been -- all these murders have been like killing the cockroaches and then getting around to the eggs. but they go down to these out-of-the-way places and they recruit people who make a dollar a week or something, and they bring them in and they become the new Juarez cartel people. They're just fodder, cannon fodder.
THE COURT: Right. I know. I hear you.

Fierro-Mendez was sentenced to 324 months, which was reduced to 108 months in 2013, following his testimony against other drug traffickers in El Paso. During that testimony, he testified that he and other members of the Sinaloa cartel fed information to ICE about rival cartels, with the approval of "El Chapo." That is just what Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla claimed in his recent Illinois case, except in Zambada-Niebla's case, the information was fed to the DEA.

The war on drugs is an expensive failure. Regardless of how many cartel leaders the U.S. and Mexico arrest, others will just rise to take their place. The U.S. should let Mexico deal with El Chapo, Zambada-Garcia, Beltran-Leyva and Carrillo-Fuentes. All we get if they are extradited is a price tag of more than $30k each per year to incarcerate them.

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    Many of these guys get their either, (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 03:11:00 PM EST
    acetone, and hydrochloric acid, to change the basura into cocaine, directly from China, since most countries control the movement of these chemicals.  But not the Chinese.  It usually comes into the sleepy fishing towns in the Pacific state of Sinoloa, just north of Mazatlan.  It used to be fun to vacation in Mazatlan, but no mas.

    Baja is the same way (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Sun Oct 12, 2014 at 09:18:21 AM EST
    Used to be fun, now it's just a dice roll too many times. I have a friend, whose husband, granted he's kind of a jerkoff, was carjacked in Baja on his way to some surf spot south of Ensenada. The jackers marched he and his crew to the end of a cliff, made them think they were going to be shot and then tumble off that cliff onto the rocks far below. Turned out the jackers just wanted to scare the phuck outta them. My acquaintance survived, but did have all their cars and jet skis and expensive shiny gringo shi*t stolen.

    Honestly, however, the last time I went down to Baja, our real trouble came when we were on our way home and had to deal with gringo border patrol guy who was a complete tool.


    rumor has it, that these two were also (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 08:23:07 PM EST
    part of the conspiracy to assassinate archduke Ferdinand, and his wife, sophie, thus precipitating WWI, with its millions of lives squandered and trillions in property losses. they intended to use the trenches to smuggle 1,000's of lbs. of coke and pot, disguised as medication for the troops, to the United States, with returning members of the AEF as unwitting mules.

    I understand this will be part of the revamped TX AP history program.

    Fascinating research (none / 0) (#3)
    by ZtoA on Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 11:17:13 PM EST