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Ex-Cartel Honcho Flips on El Chapo—and His Own Father

Vicente Zambada explains how Sinaloa cartel operated, from submarines to bribes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2019 8:07 AM CST
This undated photo provided by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York shows Vicente Zambada.   (United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York via AP)
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(Newser) – The trial of the drug lord known as El Chapo is getting to the good stuff. A once-key member of Joaquin Guzman's Sinaloa cartel took the stand in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday and will be back on Friday. The testimony of 43-year-old Vicente Zambada Niebla has been highly anticipated because he just happens to be the son of Guzman's partner at the top of the cartel, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García. And as he demonstrated in court on Thursday, the younger Zambada was privy to the nitty-gritty of how the cartel operated, from drug smuggling to bribes. Details:

  • Betrayal: The New York Times sees Zambada's testimony as an "astonishing betrayal," not only of Guzman and the cartel, but of his own father, who remains at large. In court Thursday, he called Guzman "mi compadre," or "my friend," per CNN. He began working for the cartel as a teenager. "I started realizing how everything was done," he told jurors. "And little by little, I started getting involved in my father's business."
  • Submarines: Zambada explained how the cartel moved cocaine from South America to Mexico in submarines, reports the Wall Street Journal. Speed boats would meet the subs, and the drugs would then be moved into safe houses on the mainland. He recalled a submarine ferrying five tons of cocaine on one occasion.

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