Jan. 4 (UPI) — The former logistics manager and son of the current leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel testified against accused drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Thursday.
Vicente Zambada Niebla, 43, served among the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel for nearly a decade and provided intimate details of the high-level discussions of the cartel for jurors in Guzman’s drug conspiracy trial.
Zambada’s father Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García once ran the cartel along with Guzman and remains at large as the leader of the cartel.
“My dad is the Sinaloa Cartel leader,” Zambada said. “I was also connected to corruption, I would pay police officers on behalf of my father and my compadre, El Chapo.”
Zambada testified that he was responsible for facilitating bribes to agents Mexican officials that worked with the cartel, which he said totaled $1 million a month, including a $50,000 monthly salary to a high-ranking defense chief.
He also provided details about how the cartel smuggled drugs in and out of Mexico.
Zambada told the court that the cartel hired families in El Paso, Texas, who had U.S. citizenship to transport cocaine and drug money across the border in hidden compartments in their cars.
The Sinaloa cartel also hid drugs on trains carrying meat and other products to transport them from Mexico to Chicago and smuggled drugs from South America to Mexico in submarines.
Zambada also recalled Guzman describing the anxiety he felt while hiding in a laundry cart when he escaped from the Puente Grande prison in Jalisco in 2001.
He added his father offered to give Guzman a large cut of his cocaine shipments to help him financially after he escaped from prison.
The cartel also planned to help Guzman’s brother escape prison by flying a helicopter over the recreation yard and lowering a “steel bubble” to protect him from gunfire as he was raised to safety, Zambada said. The plan was never executed and Guzman’s brother was killed in prison in 2004.
Lastly, Zambada testified that he witnessed conversations in which Guzman ordered the killings of rival cartel members.
Zambada’s testimony came after he was arrested in Mexico in 2009 and extradited to Chicago. As part of his plea deal he agreed to forfeit more than $1.3 billion to U.S. authorities and to work with federal prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence and a U.S. visa.