It’s no secret that the drug war in Mexico is also taking place in the United States. Most of the Mexican cartels are regularly delivering drugs to their northern neighbor, and even the violent casualties of the war have occasionally spilled across the border. It’s not quite as well known, however, that the U.S. government has been working directly with at least one cartel throughout the past several years.
According to new statements released in a Mexican cartel member’s U.S. trial, the United States government struck a deal with the Sinaloa cartel that allowed the group to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs in exchange for information on its rival cartels.
The actions of the government were detailed in the court documents relating to the arrest of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the son of a Sinaloa leader who was arrested in 2009 and tried in the U.S. District Court of Chicago. Mexican news publication El Universal published an extensive investigation regarding repeated meetings between DEA agents and Zambada-Niebla as well as other high-ranking Sinaloa members.
According to the DEA, the Sinaloa cartel supplies the Chicago area with 80 percent of its supply of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. The U.S. government’s involvement with the cartel took place between 2000 and 2012, totaling at least twelve years of permitted drug trafficking into the country. Time Magazine reports that DEA officers met with Sinaloa officials over fifty times throughout that time period, and often had charges against cartel members dropped in exchange for information.
While the tactic of working with one cartel was a genuine effort on behalf of the DEA to curb the violence and trafficking carried out by the other cartel groups, the drug war in Mexico shows no signs of slowing down.