Friday, February 19, 2010

Zambada-Niebla Extradited To U.S. For Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Charges In Chicago

Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla aka "El Mayito," "El Vicentillo"
(Photo: Sedena/Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional)

Alleged Mexican Lieutenant drug lord of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel arrived in Chicago on Thursday from Mexico to face federal drug trafficking conspiracy charges

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 18, 2010

Chicago - On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) anounced through a press release that Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, 34, a known Lieutenant drug lord for the Sinaloa Drug Cartel had been extradited from Mexico to the U.S. Zambada-Niebla also known as Vicente Sotelo Guzmán aka "El Mayito," "El Niño," and "El Vicentillo" had arrived in Chicago, Illinois under federal custody late Thursday afternoon.
The suspect was arrested by the Mexican military police, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (U.S.DEA), U.S. Treasury, and the Mexican Attorney's General Office special agents on March 18, 2009, at a residence located at 269 Lluvia St., in the nieghborhood called the Hills of Pedregal in Mexico City. Zambada-Niebla led the operations, logistics and security for the Sinaloa Cartel, and is also accused of taking part in smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars of cocaine and heroin to the U.S. from Mexico. He is now facing federal narcotics trafficking conspiracy charges in the United States. Zambada-Niebla is facing life in a federal prison, if convicted.
The FBI Office in Chicago said, Thursday’s development was a result of the continuing close cooperation between the United States and Mexico to investigate and prosecute the leaders of international drug-trafficking cartels. Zambada-Niebla is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, February 23 at 11:00 a.m. CST before U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 
Zambada-Niebla was among three dozen defendants who were indicted in Chicago in August 2009, as part of the largest international narcotics conspiracy case ever prosecuted in the Northern District of Illinois. He is also under indictment in a separate case pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. Zambada-Niebla will first face the charges against him in Chicago and then he will face charges in the District of Columbia.
Zambada-Niebla was indicted in Chicago together with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán-Loera and Zambada-Niebla’s father, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, both of whom allegedly directed factions of the Sinaloa Cartel. These factions allegedly coordinated narcotics trafficking with other affiliated cartels in an alliance commonly known as “The Federation.” The Chicago indictment charges crimes that allegedly occurred between 2005 and 2008, while Guzmán-Loera, Zambada-García and Arturo Beltran-Leyva were indicted separately in Brooklyn, N.Y., for alleged drug-trafficking activities between 1990 and 2005. Beltran-Leyva was killed in a stand-off with Mexican authorities in December 2009 in Mexico.
The Chicago indictment charges that Zambada-García and Guzmán-Loera together with seven other high-ranking associates, including their respective sons, Zambada-Niebla and Alfredo Guzmán-Salazar, coordinated their narcotics trafficking activities to import multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Central and South American countries, including Colombia and Panama, to the interior of Mexico, using various means of transportation. Then, they allegedly smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine at a time, as well as multi-kilograms of heroin, across the U.S. border to Chicago and throughout the United States.
The indictment alleges that Guzmán-Loera, Zambada-Garcia, and Zambada Niebla sought to obtain weapons in the United States and discussed using violence against American and/or Mexican government buildings in retaliation for each country’s enforcement of its narcotics laws and to perpetuate their narcotics trafficking activities.
The District of Columbia indictment charges Zambada-Niebla and his co defendants with conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine from 1992 until January 28, 2003. The indictment charged Zambada-Garcia organization received multi-ton quantities of Colombian cocaine through maritime shipping vessels and then used various means, including planes, trucks, and cars, to transport the cocaine across the U.S.-Mexico border. The indictment specifically alleges that the Zambada-Garcia organization distributed cocaine to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, including 1,003 kilograms of cocaine to the New York/New Jersey area, 1,770 kilograms of cocaine to the Chicago area and 2-3 kilograms of cocaine to the Los Angeles area. The total estimated value of this cocaine, all of which was allegedly distributed between August 200 and June 2002, is $47.5 million.In all, the District of Columbia indictment alleges that Zambada-Niebla and his co-defendants transported approximately 12,500 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia through Mexico and into the United States.
“Through close and sustained cooperation with our partners in Mexico, we are bringing alleged cartel leaders to justice—on both sides of the border,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “In 2009, Mexico extradited the most defendants ever to the United States in one year representing our shared commitment and responsibility for disrupting and dismantling these violent and corrosive drug-trafficking organizations."
“We praise Mexico for continuing to extradite Mexican cartel leaders to the United States,” said Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “The Sinaloa Cartel has smuggled multi-ton quantities of cocaine and heroin into our country for decades, using intimidation and murder to build and protect their criminal empire. This extradition clearly illustrates the will of the Mexican government to continue a strong partnership with DEA to target, disrupt, and dismantle the powerful Mexican cartels.”
“This is an extremely significant development in the United States’ effort to prosecute international drug importation conspiracies wherever the defendants may be operating,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.“ The indictment alleges that this organization imported many tons of cocaine and quantities of heroin into the United States and that this defendant played a central role as a high-ranking member of the alleged conspiracy.”
The DEA led the investigation in Chicago, together with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Chicago Police Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Chicago Police Department. Also assisting in the overall investigation were DEA’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC); the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force; the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois; the Chicago and Peoria offices of the FBI; the Chicago offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and other state and local law enforcement agencies. The investigation was coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, and with the assistance of agents and analysts of the Special Operations Division (SOD), and attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS), which is prosecuting related cases.
The Chicago case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Shakeshaft and Michael Ferrara.
The investigation in the District of Columbia was led by SOD. The District of Columbia case was originally handled by former NDDS Trial Attorney Patrick Hearn and is now being prosecuted by NDDS Trial Attorneys Mary Mogavero and Glenn Alexander.
The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance with Zambada-Niebla’s extradition.
The FBI department recognizes and appreciates the significant assistance provided by the government of Mexico and Mexican law enforcement partners in this extradition.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, according to the FBI press release.

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