Mexican drug lord's secret deal: Zambada-Niebla cooperates with feds in Chicago

April 10, 2014

Drug defendant's "flip" all the time to save themselves, but rarely are they this notorious and able to keep such a deal under wraps for a year. The plea agreement of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, a high level cartel member, was unsealed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Zambada-Niebla was arrested in Mexico in 2009 and extradited to the U.S. He pleaded guilty on April 3, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute multiple tons of cocaine and heroin between 2005 and 2008 to the U.S. including Chicago.

"This guilty plea is a testament to the tireless determination of the leadership and special agents of DEA's Chicago office to hold accountable those individuals at the highest levels of the drug trafficking cartels who are responsible for flooding Chicago with cocaine and heroin and reaping the profits," said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Zambada-Niebla, 39, is a codefendant with the recently arrested Sinaloa leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera and Zambada-Niebla's father Ismael Zambada-Garcia, c the current leader of the Sinaloa Cartel according to his son's plea. Zambada-Garcia is a fugitive believed to be in Mexico, according to the government.

The ABC 7 ITeam reported that during his two years at the Chicago MCC, Zambada-Niebla wasn't once allowed to the rooftop sports courts to exercise. Prison authorities said there was too much risk that the cartel boss would be picked off by a sniper or would stage a helicopter escape. Judge Ruben Castillo ordered that the accused drug lord be moved to another facility. More than two and a half years ago Zambada-Niebla was relocated to the Federal Correctional Center in Milan, Michigan.

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