Shocking allegations- DEA worked with drug cartel E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

It’s the kind of thing that would get a person laughed out of a cocktail party- the ridiculous notion that the DEA made a secret deal with a Mexican drug cartel to allow drugs to be smuggled into the US in exchange for information on that cartel’s competition. Everyone knows how dependent federal law enforcement agencies are on CI’s or criminal informants. But this story makes the series of murders committed by Whitey Bulger while he was on the FBI’s payroll look trivial. According to an article posted on the Business Insider website, an investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had a deal with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs in exchange for information on rival cartels. And yes, there is a Fast and Furious connection.

The Sinaloa Cartel is led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The outfit supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in most cities across the U.S.

Some are sure to be skeptical and that’s always a good thing when dealing with outlandish allegations. But here’s the rub.

The El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.

The written statements were made to the U.S. District Court in Chicago in testimony relating to the arrest of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla. He’s the son of Sinaloa leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and allegedly the Sinaloa cartel’s "logistics coordinator."

According to the Business Insider article, here's what DEA agent Manuel Castanon told the Chicago court:

"On March 17, 2009, I met for approximately 30 minutes in a hotel room in Mexico City with Vincente Zambada-Niebla and two other individuals — DEA agent David Herrod and a cooperating source [Sinaloa lawyer Loya Castro] with whom I had worked since 2005. ... I did all of the talking on behalf of [the] DEA."

Just hours later Mexican Marines arrested Zambada-Niebla (a.k.a. "El Vicentillo") on charges of trafficking more than a billion dollars in cocaine and heroin. Castanon and three other agents immediately visited Zambada-Niebla in prison, where the Sinaloa officer "reiterated his desire to cooperate," according to Castanon.

Court documents, according to El Universal, show that DEA agents met with high-level Sinaloa officials more than 50 times since 2000.

Those same court records show that former Justice Department prosecutor Patrick Hearn told the Chicago court that, according to DEA special agent Steve Fraga, Castro "provided information leading to a 23-ton cocaine seizure, other seizures related to" various drug trafficking organizations, and that "El Mayo" Zambada wanted his son to cooperate with the U.S.

According to the El Universal investigation, "The DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals and simultaneously built a network of informants who sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of charges in the U.S."

El Universal also interviewed more than one hundred active and retired police officers as well as prisoners and experts familiar with the case.
Zambada-Niebla's lawyer said in court that in the late 1990s, Castro struck a deal with U.S. agents.

The deal was standard in terms of the trade offs.

The Sinaloa would provide information about rival drug trafficking organizations while the U.S. would dismiss its case against the Sinaloa lawyer and agreed not to “interfere” with Sinaloa cartels drug trafficking activities or prosecuting Sinaloa cartel higher-ups.

"The agents stated that this arrangement had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors," Zambada-Niebla lawyer wrote.
After being extradited to Chicago in 2010, Zambada-Niebla claimed he was "immune from arrest or prosecution" because he had a deal with the DEA.

A minor part of the story of a federal law enforcement agency working in concert with a Mexican drug cartel that’s sure to become a major talking point is the Fast and Furious connection.

According to the Business Insider article, “Zambada-Niebla also alleged that Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the cartel in exchange for information used to take down its rivals.

El Universal reported that the cooperation between the U.S. drug agents and the Sinaloa cartel, as well as other cartels, peaked between 2006 and 2012.

That’s when the cartels consolidated their grip on Mexico with a campaign of violence that could probably be best described as terrorism.

The paper concluded by saying that it is unclear whether the arrangements continue.

The DEA and other U.S. agencies declined to comment.

This is just the latest PR nightmare for the DEA. In addition to serious questions about collusion with the NSA's blankety surveillance of law abiding Americans, there was this exchange during a Congressional hearing that was a hit on Youtube:

"I'm answering as a police officer"

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