Mexican Narco-Trafficker’s Revelations in Criminal Case Force US Government to Invoke National Security Claims
The fingerprints of the CIA have surfaced in a controversial federal criminal case pending in Chicago against Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, an alleged kingpin in the Sinaloa “drug cartel.”
US government prosecutors filed pleadings in the case late last week seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), a measure designed to assure national security information does not surface in public court proceedings.
“The government hereby requests that the Court conduct a pretrial conference … pursuant to CIPA … at which time, the government will be prepared to report to the Court and defendant [Zambada Niebla] regarding the approximate size of the universe of classified material that may possibly be implicated in the discovery and trial of this case,” states a motion filed on Friday, Sept. 9, by US prosecutors in the Zambada Niebla case.
CIPA, enacted some 30 years ago, is designed to keep a lid on the public disclosure in criminal cases of classified materials, such as those associated with CIA operations. The rule requires that notice be given to the judge in advance of any move to introduce classified evidence in a case so that the judge can determine if it is admissible, or if another suitable substitution can be arranged that preserves the defendants right to a fair trial.
“That is a very reasonable conclusion [that the CIA is likely involved in this case in some way],” says a former federal agent familiar with national security procedures. “Seeking CIPA protection, yup, there is hot stuff to hide.”
Zambada Niebla, extradited to the US in February 2010 and now facing narco-trafficking charges in federal court in Chicago, claims in pleadings in his case that the US government entered into a pact with the leadership of the Mexican Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization that supposedly provide its chief narcos with immunity in exchange for them providing US authorities with information that could be used to target other narco-trafficking organizations.
The US government, in pleadings filed in the case this past July and again this past Friday, denies that Zambada Niebla was granted immunity by any law enforcement agency for the narco-trafficking crimes spelled out in the indictment against him. Those same pleadings do not broach the topic of whether he, or his Sinaloa organization associates, might have had a cooperative relationship with US intelligence agencies, such as the CIA.
The US mainstream media echoed loudly the US government’s denial of any law-enforcement immunity deal existing with Zambada Niebla via a barrage of reports published in recent days, but those same reports are completely silent on the CIPA pleadings that were lodged with the court at the same time as the government’s denials.
A key player central to the informant pact struck between the US government and the Sinaloa organization’s leadership, according to Zambada Niebla’s court filings, is a Mexican lawyer named Humberto Loya Castro, who is described in US legal documents as “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo),” the supposed leader of the Sinaloa organization. Loya Castro acted as the intermediary representing the Sinaloa organization in its quid pro quo arrangement with the US government, Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings allege.
US government pleadings filed late last week confirm that Loya Castro was a DEA cooperating source for some 10 years while also working for the Sinaloa organization. Narco News’ law enforcement sources contend, however, that given his importance as a foreign intelligence source, Loya Castro likely was also employed in a dual role as a CIA asset.