Does Mexican Drug Cartel Have Deal With US Government?

Why wasn't the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel mentioned in Obama's recent executive order to stem transnational criminal activity in the U.S. whereas the rival cartel Los Zetas was specifically listed in the annex section of the order? Sinaloa cartel's Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is the world's most wanted drug kingpin.

Just last March Honduran officials raided a cocaine processing lab in its mountainous region near the Guatemalan border. Sinaloa was implicated in the raid and the discovery portends a new direction for Colombian movement of coca leaves production bases. 

A Sinaloa drug lord being held in Chicago on trafficking charges claims he worked as an informant for the U.S. government. In an August 3 status hearing "Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla - the son of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia, an alleged leader of the Mexico-based Sinaloa drug-and weapons-trafficking organization" provided information which implies U.S. collaboration with the Sinaloa drug cartel. "Zambada-Niebla claims he was permitted to smuggle drugs from 2004 until his arrest in 2009."

Zambada-Niebla also claims to have been an asset for the U.S. government, including being a party to deals struck between DEA agents and hard-hitters of the Sinaloa organisation. These allegedly included promises of protection by the DEA in exchange for information about rival cartels. 

The U.S. has denied offering him immunity from prosecution so Zambada-Niebla needs to produce DEA, FBI, or ICE names if he wants to be taken seriously. "The court in Chicago...ordered the government to respond to allegations in Zambada-Niebla's motion by Sept. 11. 2011."

A report from investigative journalist Michael Webster sheds light on the implications of U.S. involvement in illegal activity.

A law professor highlighted the seriousness of the allegations in an interview with Fronteras Project reporter Michel Marizco. "Essentially, this is the type of claim by a defendant that puts the government on trial; saying that the government sponsored illegal activity," asserted Wayne State University Law School professor Peter Henning, pointing out that a "public authority" defense is almost unheard of in organized crime cases.

"Given what's going on with the Mexican drug cartels, the last thing the United States can handle is any kind of finding that it in fact sponsored one of the drug cartels," he added.

Webster also points out Zambada-Niebla's connection to gun running. 

Mexico's Zambada is also accused of conspiring to obtain weapons in the U.S. to wreak havoc during the period he claims to have been working for the federal government. The Obama administration is refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation of the ATF operation that was deliberately giving high-powered weapons to Mexican cartels, some of which were used in the murders of U.S. federal agents.

The U.S. government's use of informants to fight the war on drugs has been going on since the Iran-Contra affair but according to the IPS News report:

The only difference was that the Iran-Contra affair was political, whereas the Mexican drug wars and the U.S. involvement is becoming, increasingly, solely about monetary and economic [motives]," he said. [Bill Conroy, the journalist who broke this story for Narco News]

It remains to be seen if our government has been reckless in its dealings with informants to break up drug cartels. It will also be interesting to find out what the Attorney General has to say in September about Zambada-Niebla's allegations.