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Drug lord El Chapo Guzman open to negotiating a deal with U.S. authorities

January 24, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Drug lord El Chapo Guzman open to negotiating a deal with U.S. authorities

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Since the recapture of the most wanted man in the world, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the government of Mexico has wasted no time initiating proceedings for the extradition of the drug lord to the United States where he is wanted for multiple drug trafficking indictments.

A majority of experts say the process could take at least a year to resolve. However, the resolute President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to streamline the process.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Pena Nieto revealed plans by his government to fast track the process to extradite Guzman, much to the pleasure of U.S. officials.

Now, federal law enforcement agents have more of a reason to be excited, after recent reports out of Mexico indicate that Guzman is seeking a cooperating agreement with U.S. authorities.

In an interview with Mexican media outlet Proceso, a member of the drug lord’s legal counsel confirmed the reports of Guzman’s desire to negotiate with the US authorities.

“He is open to that scenario,” said Mexican Attorney Jose Refugio Rodriguez-Nunez, who represents “Chapo” Guzman.

The attorney admitted that Guzman had “considered seeking a deal even before his escape from the Altiplano prison last July.”

Furthermore, Rodriguez-Nunez revealed that a highly regarded American lawyer based in California has been contacted, who would take part in any negotiation process.

Rodriguez-Nunez disclosed that since his client’s Jan 8th apprehension, the strategy employed by Guzman’s legal team intended to extend the extradition process for as long as possible, giving lawyers enough time to negotiate an eventual agreement with the United States.

The attorney explained that if Mexican authorities succeed in delivering Chapo Guzman to the U.S. government before a deal is in place, then it could change the rules and the terms of a possible negotiation.

The cartel boss is currently wanted in seven U.S. federal court districts, all of whom are jockeying for the opportunity to prosecute the leader of the most powerful organized crime syndicate in the world.

Legal experts tell JammedUp that the Eastern District of New York, located in Brooklyn, would likely end up trying Guzman on a drug trafficking indictment that includes 12 counts of murder.

Guzman is considered a walking treasure trove of intelligence, which U.S. law-enforcement agencies could use in battling the Mexican drug cartels.

El Chapo’s history with the DEA

Reports of Guzman’s intentions in seeking a deal should not surprise anyone. El Chapo and other high-ranking Sinaloa cartel leaders have maintained lines of communication with U.S. federal law enforcement agencies over a period of at least ten years.

“Chapo” Guzman’s goal to rule the drug market south of the border included the elimination of his rivals. To achieve his objective, El Chapo employed a tactic that strategically placed his drug-dealing lieutenants as informants for the DEA and ICE.

Bothe Guzman and his partner Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada maintained a line of communication with U.S. DEA agents  using  through a lawyers named Humberto Loya Castro

Both “Chapo” Guzman and his partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada maintained a line of communication with U.S. DEA agents using a lawyer named Humberto Loya Castro

An example of this strategy involved Guzman and his longtime partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who used an attorney for the cartel named Humberto Loya-Castro to feed the DEA information on their rivals including the Arrellano-Felix brothers, Los Zetas, and Juarez cartels.

After Federal prosecutors out of the U.S. District Court of San Diego indicted Guzman and Loya-Castro in 1993, the drug lord urged Castro to seek a cooperating agreement with the U.S. authorities with the full knowledge and approval of the Sinaloa organization’s top leadership in exchange for immunity.

As far back as 2002, Loya-Castro regularly received intelligence directly from the leaders of the cartel including both Zambada and Guzman, which he passed along to his DEA handlers.

Loya-Castro also arranged a meeting in Mexico City in 2009 between DEA agents and the son of El Mayo Zambada at the request of the two cartel leaders.

Vincente Zambada Niembla, who was facing an indictment out of Chicago, admitted in court documents,  how he was urged by both his father and Chapo Guzman to seek an immunity deal in exchange for cooperating with the DEA.

Mexican authorities arrested the younger Zambada soon after the meeting took place with the U.S. federal agents and was extradited to the United States.

Now that Guzman is back behind bars, U.S. officials believe that it is just a matter of time before Guzman will try to negotiate a deal.

Larry Villalobos, a former top DEA official who met with Guzman face to face, told NBC News that “it was more than likely “El Chapo,” would try and cut a deal by offering intelligence that could be too enticing for federal authorities to refuse.”

However, Villalobos doesn’t believe El Chapo would betray his fellow members of the Sinaloa cartel.

“Guzman is extremely smart, cagey, but loyal, he is much more likely to “rat-out” rival cartel members than leaders from within his Sinaloa cartel, who are keeping the multibillion-dollar organization humming,” said Villalobos.

In 1998, Villalobos had an extensive meeting with Guzman at the Puente Grande prison where he served his first sentence.

The drug kingpin was reportedly interested in trading information about Arrellano Felix brothers, who was engaged in a bloody war with the Sinaloa cartel for control of the Tijuana drug Plaza, in exchange for a deal.

Vincente Zambada Niembla  after his 2009 arrest near Mexico City

Vincente Zambada after his 2009 arrest near Mexico City

“He’s looking at lots of time in the United States and was trying to offer information as part of a deal to lessen the charges, but it never transpired, he escaped three years later,” said Villalobos.

The former agent explained the significance of a cooperating agreement with the boss of the Sinaloa cartel, “Guzman has knowledge of the drug wars in Mexico that dates back 30 years; he’s been involved in all of it, and knows a great deal.”

Jack Riley, former head of the DEA, says that El Chapo is the highest-ranking drug lord ever arrested. Even if a cooperation agreement didn’t include members of his cartel, El Chapo would still be the largest source of intelligence that law enforcement agencies have ever had at its disposal.

Chapo Guzman has shown an incredible hands-on approach in the way he operates,” Riley told the BBC. “His ability to control distribution, his ability to control transportation, his ability to collect drug proceeds, we’ve never seen anything like it,” said Riley.

El Chapo’s vast knowledge of logistical operations of the Mexican drug cartels would include vital Intelligence on production, global transportation capabilities as well as distribution networks throughout Mexico and the U.S.

“I think more valuable to the U.S. government is [Guzman’s knowledge of] the machine that gets the product to Mexico unhindered and into the U.S., the information he knows about the source countries, the submarines and boats, the management of the whole operation,” Villalobos said.

The diminutive drug lord can also expose the Sinaloa cartel’s vast network of corrupt top government officials, police and military leaders who have accepted bribes over the years.

What U.S. authorities are willing to concede as part of a cooperation agreement is unclear.

However, Villalobos says with certainty that any agreement with El Chapo that would include either the opportunity to stay in Mexico or for a major reduction in his prison sentence will never happen.

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