The former logistics manager of the Sinaloa cartel testified against his former boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, giving jurors a rare opportunity to hear details of alleged high-level discussions within the cartel’s inner circle, reports the Wall Street Journal. Vicente Zambada Niebla, who was arrested in Mexico in 2009, served among the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel for nearly a decade, and recently pleaded guilty to drug-conspiracy charges. Officials have called him one of the most significant drug traffickers to ever be extradited to the U.S. In a plea agreement, Zambada agreed to a U.S. forfeiture order of more than $1.3 billion and to assist federal prosecutors. In exchange, he said the government allowed his family to move to the U.S. for their safety.
As the person in charge of coordinating drug shipments, Zambada offered jurors a detailed account of how massive amounts of cocaine and methamphetamines were ferried from Colombia through Mexico into U.S. cities. He said the cartel hired families with U.S. citizenship who lived in El Paso, Tx., to drive across the Mexican border several times a day and return to the U.S. carrying cocaine or drug proceeds in hidden compartments in their cars. To get cocaine from the Mexican border to Chicago, drugs were hidden on trains carrying meat and other products, Zambada said. Zambada’s father, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, is still the cartel’s leader and remains at large. Guzmán faces a 17-count indictment that accuses him of building a multi-billion-dollar international narcotics empire over nearly three decades.The trial in Brooklyn federal court, is expected to last several more weeks. The judge on Thursday urged prosecutors to speed up the case.