US Government Informant Helped Sinaloa Narcos Stay Out of Jail

Mexican Lawyer Who Was Trusted Associate of "Chapo" Guzman Allegedly Paid Off Corrupt Mexican Officials, All Under the Watch of US Agencies

An obscure figure in Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization is key to the US government’s alleged deal with its leadership — a pact that supposedly provided the "cartel's" chief narcos with immunity in exchange for them providing US authorities with information that could be used to target other narco-trafficking organizations.

That key player central to the informant pact 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’s name surfaces in legal pleadings filed recently in US federal court in Chicago by Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, another of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization. Zambada Niebla, himself a key player in the Sinaloa organization, was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and in February 2010 extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.

Zambada Niebla claims in his legal pleadings that “sometime prior to 2004, and continuing through the time period covered in the indictment [against him], the United States government entered into an agreement with Loya [Castro] and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, including [El] Mayo and Chapo [Guzman].”

“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya [Castro], was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government,” Zambada Niebla alleges in court pleadings. “In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya [Castro], not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them.”

The stunning allegations, published first by Narco News and days after that reported in the US mainstream media, should prompt serious questions about the veracity of the drug war, raising the specter that it is little more than an ugly pretense designed to protect the interests of a powerful elite at the expense of democracy and the mass of people in both the US and Mexico.

To date, US government prosecutors have argued in pleadings only that “the government denies that defendant [Zambada Niebla] exercised public authority when he committed the serious crimes charged in the indictment.” In other words, the prosecutors are saying that even if Zambada Niebla was an informant, he was not authorized to carry out the specific acts he is accused of in the indictment against him.

But in all of the reporting to date on the alleged deal between the US government and the leadership of the Sinaloa “Cartel,” nothing has been reported on the background of the catalyst for this pact with the devil, Loya Castro.

Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings indicate only that in exchange for spearheading the cartel pact and acting as a US government informant, Loya Castro’s federal case [was] dismissed in 2008 and the DEA representative told Mr. Loya Castro that they wanted to establish a more personal relationship with Mr. Zambada Niebla so that they could deal with him directly under the agreement.”

“Mr. Zambada Niebla believed that under the prior agreement, any activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, including the kind described in the indictment [against him in Chicago], were covered by the agreement, and that he was immune from arrest or prosecution,” Zamada Niebla claims in his court pleadings.

Loya Castro also is described in Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings as an attorney and “Sinaloa Cartel member who in the late 1980s into the early 1990s became an adviser and confidante of … [Zambada Niebla], Joaquiz Guzman Loera (“Chapo”) and Ismael Zambada Garcia {“Mayo”)….”

Loya Castro allegedly entered into his agreement with the US government, via the Department of Justice, in 1998, the court pleadings assert.

From Zambada Niebla’s court filings:

Under the agreement, Loya [Castro] was to provide information to the [US] government, particularly about rival cartels, in return for immunity for Loya’s prior acts and continuing acts. Loya [Castro] understood that this agreement was known and approved by attorneys in the Department of Justice and the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In exchange for the information he provided, Loya [Castro] was promised immunity for past and future activities involving the Sinaloa Cartel and that a federal indictment against him in San Diego would be dismissed. Indeed, in December of 2008, the case against Loya [Castro] in San Diego was dismissed, representing the government’s fulfillment of its commitment to furnish transactional immunity. Nor has Loya [Castro] been prosecuted for anything since that time.

Escape Clause

So, in order to get more insight into the background of Loya Castro, seemingly the key figure in the Sinaloa organization’s informant pact with the US government, we have to go back to the federal court pleadings in San Diego, which were filed initially in the mid-1990s, according to the case docket. At that time, “Chapo” Guzman was locked up tight in a Mexican prison, and his little brother, Arturo Guzman Loera, was supposedly overseeing the Sinaloa organization.

Loya Castro and Arturo Guzman were both targets of the same US criminal case filed in San Diego federal court in 1995.

In September 2001, while Loya Castro was allegedly working as a US government informant, Mexican authorities arrested Arturo Guzman. However, earlier that same year, in January, Arturo’s older brother, “Chapo,” mysteriously escaped from a maximum security prison in Mexico — only days before he was slated to be extradited to the United States.

Arturo Guzman was later shot to death (in December 2004) in Mexico’s La Palma prison, the presumed target of a rival drug organization.

One of Loya Castro’s jobs for the Sinaloa organization, according to an indictment returned against him in the San Diego federal court case, was to secure the release of incarcerated Sinaloa narco leaders, often by paying off corrupt Mexican officials.

In fact, the San Diego indictment alleges Loya Castro did just that for Arturo Guzman in 1991, some two years before his brother “Chapo” Guzman was arrested and sent to a Mexican federal prison — from which he “escaped” in 2001.

“In or about 1991, in Mexico City, Mexico, defendant Loya [Castro] caused $1,000,000 cash to be paid to an official of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police for the release of defendant Arturo Guzman from custody,” claims a superceding indictment returned against Loya Castro in 1996 in federal court in San Diego.

In fact, according to the San Diego indictment, Loya Castro was alleged to even have connections in the US that could help arrange prison escapes.

“On or about February 3, 1995, in San Antonio, Texas, Raul Guzman (indicted elsewhere) had a telephone conversation with an unindicted co-conspirator and said that he would call and confirm that Guillermo Saillez-Cuervo, (indicted elsewhere), was in custody in Florence Correctional Center in Tucson, Arizona, because defendant Loya [Castro] had contacts at the Florence Correctional Center and could allegedly arrange for Saillez-Cuervo, who was serving a nineteen year sentence, to escape,” the San Diego indictment against Loya Castro asserts.

More from that same indictment:

Humberto Loya Castro … protected the drugs and money of the Guzman [Sinaloa] organization in Mexico by paying money to Mexican authorities to assure that the drugs were not seized by Mexican law enforcement. … Loya [Castro also] ensured that if key members of the Guzman organization were arrested, they did not remain in custody by paying money to obtain legal files from the Procuraduria General de la Republico (PGR) so that he could alter these files.

So it would appear that Loya Castro, a US government informant since at least 1998, according to Zambada Niebla, played a corrupt role in the release of Arturo Guzman from a Mexican prison in 1991, as part of his job assignment for the Sinaloa organization.

It does not seem a stretch, then, to question whether Loya Castro, while serving as a US government informant, also assisted in some way with the "escape" in 2001 of “Chapo” Guzman from a Mexico prison (maybe by greasing the palms of key Mexican officials so they would look the other way on escape day).

In any event, from that point on, if Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings can be believed, “Chapo” Guzman, along with his partner, El Mayo, went on to build arguably the most powerful narco-trafficking organization in Mexico — all under the watch of and while working as informants for, the US government.

A former FBI agent, who spoke with Narco News and asked not to be named, says, unfortunately, such a scenario is not out of the question:

Because drug seizures/arrests are "sexy" issues, which gets you a larger budget, there are times when [US] agencies look the other way. The Whitey Bulger mess in Boston is the best evidence of that.

Welcome to the drug war, where the enemy appears, in the end, to be us, kind readers.

Stay tuned….

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