Dark Alliances: How the DEA, Big Banking and Death Squads Made Sinaloa the Last Cartel Standing in Mexico

by Scott Creighton

(The title of this article pays tribute to one of the most courageous and dedicated journalists of our time, Gary Webb. There have been many others who have covered this issue, notably Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair Alfred W. McCoy , Michael Levine and Michael Ruppert just to name a few.)

It is said they operate more like a corporation than a drug gang. There’s good reason for that. It’s what they are.

The Sinaloa Cartel (a.k.a. “Guzmán-Loera Organization”, “The Federation” and “The Blood Alliance”) ships more harmful illegal drugs into this country by far than any other single group in the world.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, within the U.S. the Sinaloa Cartel is primarily involved in the manufacture and distribution of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and MDMA.[20]

The Sinaloa Cartel is also the #1 importer of all those trendy, tasty flavors of high-end pot a few of you can buy legally in a couple states. So as the push to legalize continues, the Sinaloa corporate brand (and all those who essentially have stock in it) sits back and smiles.

And now, according to Tomás Zerón, the director of the Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) within Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR), Sinaloa stands almost alone atop a pile of rotting corpses of what used to be a myriad of drug gangs in Mexico.

That’s because we made them that way.

It’s been over eight years since former Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared an offensive on the country’s drug trafficking organizations that left over an estimated 100,000 people dead on both sides.

In the coinciding years, a slew of drug cartels have risen to prominence to fill power vacuums left following the death or capture of their counterparts. But now, according to a high-ranking Mexican official, there are two cartels operating in the country: the stalwart Sinaloa cartel and the newer Jalisco-New Generation cartel. Fox News Latino

According to this official, Sinaloa and the fledgling Jalisco have won the Mexican drug wars and taken control of nearly all the trafficking throughout the country making Sinaloa basically, the only established cartel to have come out the wars intact.

You might ask how they did that? How did one illegal cartel scurry around and avoid all the other killer gangs, the Mexican military which was killing drug dealers like it was going out of style and that renowned War On Drugs we keep hearing so much about from the DEA and the CIA and ATF?

Quite a feat, right?

Well, not really when you think of it in terms of the one thing Western capitalism thrives on: crony capitalism or rigging the market to favor one friendly institution over all others.

This is what happens when the masters of the universe apply their special brand of “free markets” to the drug industry. As in every other industry this “free market” model effects, covert collusion between the cartel and brutal government forces paved the way for Sinaloa to corner the Mexican market.

These are but a few of those Dark Alliances.

National Action Party (PAN)

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman used to run the Sinaloa Cartel before his high profile “arrest” a year ago in Mexico. My guess is, he’s still running it from some exclusive “prison” hotel suite under the watchful eye of the Mexican military. If you recall, Guzman “escaped” from a maximum security prison once before.

The Mexican authorities had to ‘arrest’ him because they were getting a lot of heat from the international community because it was the worst kept secret in the world that they were in bed with the #1 drug dealer in the world and in fact helping him ship his products, hide his money and kill off his competition… literally.

In Feb. of 2010, Mexican President Felipe Calderon went to D.C. to chat with Barack Obama about his ongoing War on Drugs. He had as many as 45,000 troops on the ground rounding up and killing drug dealers and traffickers at an astonishing rate.

Tens of thousands died as a result, most killed by government forces either the corrupt police or the Mexican military.

Several cartels were viciously whipped out by military forces using military heavy equipment… but oddly, not Sinaloa… the biggest and most dangerous cartel.

In late 2009 and early 2010, NPR did a series of stories about how one Mexican drug cartel, Sinaloa, was in bed with the Mexican government. They based their findings on court documents and dozens of witnesses coming forward to tell the tale.

An NPR News investigation has found strong evidence of collusion between elements of the Mexican army and the Sinaloa cartel in the violent border city of Juarez.

Dozens of interviews with current and former law enforcement agents, organized crime experts, elected representatives, and victims of violence suggest that the Sinaloans depend on bribes to top government officials to help their leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, elude capture, expand his empire and keep his operatives out of jail.

I work in the police and because of this I know the government is protecting Chapo Guzman. It’s hitting all the cartels but Chapo,” said Luis Arturo Perez Torres, 25, until recently a federal police officer stationed in a suburb of Mexico City. NPR

In SightCrime puts a finer point on it:

The Sinaloa Cartel seems to have taken its cue from Colombia’s Cali Cartel by establishing strong connections to the political and economic elite in Mexico. It has successfully penetrated government and security forces wherever it operates. It often opts for the bribe over the bullet and alliances over fighting, but it is not above organizing its forces to overrun areas that it wants to control by force.

The cartel’s most powerful contacts are in the National Action Party (PAN), which, according to some sources, help account for its growth in the last decade. The PAN’s Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon have launched numerous offensives against trafficking organizations, and some major leaders have been captured, including Osiel Cardenas Guillen, head of the Gulf Cartel, and Benjamin Arellano Felix, head of the Tijuana Cartel. So strong is the perception that the PAN favors Sinaloa that Mexican justice officials issued a press release in 2010 denying it, while the Calderon government produced a video in 2011 with the same intention. But the perception persists even after the arrest of El Chapo. In Sight Crime

The perception lingers because it has deep roots within the Mexican identity. As far back as 2005, high ranking Mexican officials were calling Guzman and Sinaloa the drug traffickers of the Fox administration.

In an interview with Proceso in February 2005, then-president of the National Commission on Public Security, Jose Antonio Ortega Sanchez, referred to him (Guzman) as the “drug trafficker of the [Fox] administration.”  He said, “It is evident that [the drug baron] is being protected, because the PGR [Federal Attorney General’s Office] always arrives late when it has information about where he can be found.  It would seem that he is the drug trafficker protected by the authorities who are obliged to detain him.” (Proceso 1476) Narco News, 2009

I think it’s fair too say that for the past 13 years or so, during the great war on drug trafficking cartels in Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel has enjoyed a special relationship throughout it all with the local governments and the federal government as well. During that time they have indeed flourished gaining strength as their market share increased exponentially. In Sight Crime sums it up like this:

For nearly twelve years (written in 2014), two straight National Action Party (PAN) governments seemed to favor the Sinaloa Cartel criminal organization. The proof was there to see: Joaquin Guzman’s escape from maximum security prison; the expansion of the Sinaloa Cartel in the south of the country (taking over Acapulco); displacing the Juarez and Tijuana Cartels from their traditional strongholds and the Amado Carillo and volatile Arellano Felix families along with them. In Sight Crime

When 45,000 troops and the combined power of the Mexican government, the DEA and the CIA are unleashed on a criminal enterprise, one would expect the first target would be the largest and most dangerous, but that is not what happened. Instead, Sinaloa got in bed with these same institutions and now reap the rewards of doing so. Clearly it is evident that the political party that was in power during those import first 12 years of this war in Mexico, the National Action Party, chose a victor in all of this and that winner was Sinaloa.

Was that favorable influence restricted to government agencies south of the border?

No it was not.

The CIA, the DEA and ATF (a.k.a. Fast and Furious)

The CIA has a long, sordid history of importing drugs into the United States in order to destabilize various targeted communities and produce secret black-op slush funds for their various illegal operations across the globe.

That’s an uncontroversial statement of fact, though it certainly isn’t pleasant to think about or write about as Gary Webb discovered.

Since as early as the Korean war, the CIA has been intimately involved in the protection of or direct aiding in the importing of illegal narcotics business here in the States.

By time Vietnam rolled around, they were flying the drugs in Air America planes on behalf of the Mafia.

Before long, someone – there were unproven allegations that it was a Mafia family from Florida – had established a heroin refining lab in Region Two. The lab’s production was soon being ferried out on the planes of the CIA’s front airline, Air America. A pair of BNDD agents tried to seize an Air America.

A pair of BNDD agents tried to seize an Air America DC-3 loaded with heroin packed into boxes of Tide soap powder. At the CIA’s behest, they were ordered to release the plane and drop the inquiry. New York Times

Fast forward to 2007 and what do you find (remember, 2007 was DURING the time Mexico was heavily involved in their War on Drugs)? A CIA plane loaded with 4 tons of cocaine crashes in Mexico on route to the U.S. Someone didn’t pay off the right local official, the plane couldn’t land and refuel and the CIA contractor pilot had to ditch.

This Florida based Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA  crash landed on September 24, 2007 after it ran out of fuel over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula it had a cargo of several tons of Cocaine on board now documents have turned up on both sides of the Atlantic that link this Cocaine Smuggling Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA that crashed in Mexico to the CIA who used it on at least 3 rendition flights from Europe and the USA to Guantanamo’s infamous torture chambers between 2003 to 2005. Daily Kos

Here’s a video which provides a little more detail on the flight and the crash.

If nothing else, this crash proves one thing: the CIA was still up to it’s old tricks in 2007 importing narcotics into the United States on behalf of one cartel or the other. The location of the crash would imply that they were operating in support of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The DEA’s and ATF’s connections to Sinaloa are even more well defined.

In early 2014, a report came out of a leading Mexican newspaper that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had been working with the Sinaloa cartel since early 2000, along the same time the U.S.-friendly National Action Party came to power and got in bed with them as well. The report makes it very clear that as the relationship with the DEA grew, so did Sinaloa’s power and share of the illegal trade.

The U.S. government allowed the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel to carry out its business unimpeded between 2000 and 2012 in exchange for information on rival cartels, an investigation by El Universal claims

The period when the relationship between the DEA and Sinaloa was supposed to have been the closest, between 2006 and 2012, saw a major surge of violence in Mexico, and was the time when the Sinaloa cartel rose significantly in prominence. TIME

As the story of the dark alliance grew in prominence across the media world, so to did the MSM’s efforts to justify such illegal and reprehensible behavior.

Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior research scholar in law and economics at Columbia University, says that the tactic has been previously used in Colombia, Cambodia, Thailand and Afghanistan. TIME

This senior research scholar failed to mention North Korea, the great English Opium Wars or the simple fact that the Taliban eradicated Afghanistan’s opium production when they took power in late 1999 and it was only after we took over following 9/11 that the country resumed it’s place atop the list of the biggest heroin producers of the world once again. Slight oversight I suppose.

The same individual who blew the whistle on this longstanding agreement between Sinaloa and the DEA, Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, also brought up something else, Fast and Furious.

A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is.

It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.

The explosive allegations are being made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator.” He was extradited to the Chicago last year to face federal drug charges. James Howerton

Fast and Furious was supposedly an “illegal gun tracking” program where the ATF working with the DEA would provide illegal unregistered weapons from the U.S. to various actors across the border. Then they would supposedly “see where they went” in an effort to better understand the underground systems bringing weapons into Mexico.

That was all bullshit.

You see, there was a reason that the Sinaloa cartel rose to power significantly during these 13 years and a reason why so many bodies piled up all over Mexico.

Once again, just like with Iran/Contra, we were trading guns for drugs in order to empower one compliant faction whom our glorious leaders had decided would be the big “winners” in the Mexican drug wars.

As The New American reported last week, federal court filings by a top Sinaloa Cartel operative shed even more insight on what may have been going on. And the documents would appear to lend some credence to the Times’ article.

The accused “logistical coordinator” for the Sinaloa organization, Jesus Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada-Niebla, claimed that he had an agreement with top American officials. In exchange for information on rival cartels, the deal supposedly gave him and his associates immunity to import multi-ton quantities of drugs across the border.

“Indeed, United States government agents aided the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel,” the court filing states. Countless guns — via Operation Fast and Furious — also flowed to the cartel under the arrangement, according to Zambada-Niebla and U.S. officials. New American

Fast and Furious was all over the news while the Obama administration scrambled for cover. It was complicated by the fact that two border patrol agents were killed with weapons that had been part of the program.

A federal operation dubbed Fast and Furious allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so the arms could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. L.A. Times

Talk about your chickens coming home to roost. Obama’s Iran/Contra was bleeding all over the front pages and had he been a republican, it could have been bad.

However, that’s why God created “left cover” and soon enough, all was forgotten.

What can’t be forgotten is our illustrious history of using our secret services like the CIA, ATF and the DEA to empower certain drug cartels in the past, including most recently the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.

But of course, the question is “why?” and the answer is as old as time: Mommon.

Wells Fargo, HSBC and the Big Business of Banking Big Drug Bucks

The CIA (Capitalism’s Invisible Army) has in service of the bankers since it’s inception. In fact, for the vast majority of it’s existence, it’s been run by bankers.

So is it any surprise when you find a direct between all the CIA’s dark alliances and Big Banking?

One key to the Sinaloa Cartel’s success has been to use the global banking system to launder all this cash.

“It’s very important for them to get that money into the banking system and do so with as little scrutiny as possible,” says Jim Hayes, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for the New York office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. He was lead agent in the 2012 case that revealed how Sinaloa money men used HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, as their private vault.

ICE says in 2007 and 2008, the Sinaloa Cartel and a Colombian cartel wire-transferred $881 million in illegal drug proceeds into U.S. accounts. NPR

You see, banks are supposed to report massive deposits of cash when they apparently have no source for that income. That’s one way our lovely government has been cracking down on the War on Drugs. Try depositing $11,000 in cash in your local bank and see what happens.

Sinaloa however, had a different arrangement.

According to a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, cartel operatives would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a single day using boxes designed to fit the exact dimensions of the teller’s window at HSBC branches in Mexico.

The bank ignored basic anti-money laundering controls, as the investigation found. In 2007 and 2008, the bank’s personnel in Mexico wired $7 billion dollars to corresponding U.S. dollar accounts in New York. These were more dollars than even larger Mexican banks wired to U.S. accounts. ICE says some of it was drug proceeds…

Yet no red flags were raised NPR

Hundreds of millions of dollars with no apparent source, was flowing back and forth between the big banks and U.S. borders during the height of the Mexican drug wars and no one paid any attention.

Kinda like how no one paid attention when Sinaloa killed a couple dozen people in Juarez or how no one in the DEA paid attention when a 2 ton shipment of cocaine with their seal crossed the border.

But HSBC wasn’t alone. They couldn’t wash that amount of money by their lonesome so other accessories after the fact were needed.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller’s cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement. Guardian

So not only did the CIA, the AFT and the DEA give Sinaloa a literal “carte blanche” to escalate their illegal drug trade operations in the U.S. but they apparently partnered with various big banking interests to make sure the money would continue to flow unabated.

Because it doesn’t matter if you can transport all the coke in the world over the borders without a problem if you get your cash seized by the banking industry while they are following the rule of law, working to help track illegal drug money and finger those who are depositing it.

The Perfect Storm for Sinaloa

In terms of organized crime, Sinaloa couldn’t have asked for a better set-up.

Local government protected them and worked with them killing off their competition with various death-squads both private and military.

U.S. agencies provided not only free passage of their life-crushing products over the border into the very communities they are sworn to protect, but in many cases, they seem to have facilitated those transfers themselves.

And lastly, Big Banking welcomed their obviously tainted cash with open arms while alerting authorities to any other cartel’s violation of international banking law.

Mexico’s human rights commission back in 2012 noted that as many as 81 Mexican journalists have been killed or disappeared in the country since the start of this dark alliance between Sinaloa, the Mexican government, U.S. secret services and Big Banking.

There’s a reason for that.

There’s also a reason Gary Webb is no longer with us. Or Ruppert for that matter.

One of the most insidious stories of our time is staring us right in the face and very few are even mentioning it.

Our government, the administration of “CHANGE”, has colluded with Big Banking and corrupt members of the Mexican government to create one of the most powerful and ruthless drug cartels of all time who have now come out the big winners in the 13 year Mexican drug war and no one seems to want to talk about it.

But it’s true and there is no denying it. We picked a winner and the masters of the universe got in bed with them while the bodies started piling up, in Mexico and here in the states. Heroin, crack, meth… soul-crushing poisons each and every one… all flowing easily into this country, ruining lives and crippling futures… all for the benefit of a few super wealthy Mammon worshipers.

When covert power goes unchecked, these are the dark alliances that will inevitably be formed. That is also a truth as old as history itself.

We need the likes of Gary Webb, Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair Alfred W. McCoy , Michael Levine and Michael Ruppert  now more than ever.

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4 Responses

  1. Speaking of Gary Webb, did you notice that shortly after the CIA, I mean Amazon, I mean a founder of Amazon, bought the Washington Post, the Post came out with an article demonizing Gary Webb?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gary-webb-was-no-journalism-hero-despite-what-kill-the-messenger-says/2014/10/17/026b7560-53c9-11e4-809b-8cc0a295c773_story.html

    Also, if you look at WiCIAPedia, the article makes sure to point out early that Gary Webb committed suicide and offers a concocted justification for someone shooting themselves twice. No argument about evidence of murder, nor mention of the word “murder” at that. Just watered down apologetic reasons why any any suggestion that he was killed (or that the CIA was actually involved in drug trafficking) is unfounded.

  2. Fantastic article, Scott.

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