By Edwin Mora
December 29, 2011
In this Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 picture, an American flag on a resident’s home waves in the breeze near a U.S. Border Patrol truck blocking the road leading to a search area near where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed northwest of Nogales, Ariz. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Greg Bryan)
(CNSNews.com) – An alleged Mexican drug trafficker awaiting trial in a Chicago federal court claims that the notorious Sinaloa cartel received weapons from “Operation Fast and Furious” under an alleged immunity agreement that the U.S. government made with cartel leaders, in exchange for information on rival gangs.
The defendant in a trafficking case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Vicente Jesus Zambada-Niebla, also claims the immunity deal allowed the criminal cartel to “continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs” into the United States.
He wants the U.S. government to provide documents relating to the botched gun running sting operation along the southwest border, arguing that it would benefit his defense.
Operation Fast and Furious, which began in September 2009, saw the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives supervise the sale of guns to straw purchasers with the intent of tracing the guns to Mexican drug trafficking organizations and prosecuting their members. The ATF allowed about 2,000 guns to be sold in this manner.
The operation came under congressional scrutiny after it was linked to the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry at the hands of Mexican bandits.
An investigative report, spearheaded by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), found that most of the weapons provided to Mexican criminals under the operation were going to the Sinaloa cartel, arguably one of the world’s largest drug trafficking organizations.
In a court pleading filed last July, Zambada-Niebla made the claims about an immunity deal.