Yesterday I stumbled across this story at BusinessInsider.com, CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico’s Most Notorious Drug Cartel:
An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.
Sinaloa, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.
There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” coordinates with American authorities.
Read the whole thing, but there is this disclaimer at the bottom:
This post has caused many to interpret that the U.S. government is actively supporting Sinaloa. That has not been established, despite claims by Zambada-Niebla’s lawyer and Stratfor’s source. What El Universal’s investigation and the newly published court documents reveal is that there was a strong correlation between 2005 and 2009 regarding the rise of the Sinaloa cartel and the DEA’s relatively regular contact with a top Sinaloa lawyer.
This story reminded me of the El Paso Times report from July of 2011 that U.S. military weapons (the real thing, not semi-autos from border gun shops) were being smuggled to the Zetas cartel through Texas and New Mexico – Zetas may be smuggling weapons:
The brutally violent Zetas drug organization may be smuggling military-grade weapons through El Paso and Columbus, N.M., to feed its ongoing battles against other cartels and to possibly disrupt the 2012 elections in Mexico.
Phil Jordan, a former director of the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center and a former CIA operative, said the Zetas have shipped large amounts of weapons through the El Paso area.
A federal law enforcement agency in El Paso said it has no information about the allegations that the Zetas are smuggling weapons through El Paso.
“They are purchasing weapons in the Dallas area and are flying them to El Paso, and then they are taking them across the border into Juárez,” said Jordan, a law enforcement consultant and former DEA official who still has contacts in the law enforcement community.
Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, a former CIA contract pilot, supported Jordan’s allegations and said the Zetas allegedly also purchased property in the Columbus-Palomas border region to stash weapons and other contraband.
He said purchasing property and setting up a weapons-smuggling network suggests that the Zetas were establishing a staging area for their operations.
DEA Special Agent Diana Apodaca, spokeswoman for El Paso’s DEA office, said the agency did not have any information about the Zetas allegedly operating in this border region.
No one from the Border Patrol or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives returned calls Tuesday for comment.
Earlier this month, Plumlee had a debriefing with the Border Patrol in Las Cruces about the intelligence he gathered when he accompanied the U.S. military’s Task Force 7 along the border. The military, which assists civilian law enforcement in counter-drug operations, was looking into allegations of gun smuggling along the border.
“The military task force became concerned that its information about arms smuggling was being compromised,” Plumlee said. “From the intel, it appears that a company was set up in Mexico to purchase weapons through the U.S. Direct Commercial Sales program, and that the company may have had a direct link to the Zetas.”
Under the Direct Commercial Sales program, the U.S. State Department regulates and licenses businesses to sell weapons and defense services and training for export. Last year, according to U.S. statistics, the program was used to provide Mexico $416.5 million worth of weapons and equipment, including military-grade weaponry.
The program is different from the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, which operates on a government-to-government basis.
Plumlee said military-grade weapons were found in a Juárez warehouse two years ago, and some of them were moved later to a ranch elsewhere in Juárez. Arms stash houses have also been reported in places across the border from Columbus and Antelope Wells, N.M.
“They’ve found anti-aircraft weapons and hand grenades from the Vietnam War era,” Plumlee said. Other weapons found include grenade launchers, assault rifles, handguns and military gear including night-vision goggles and body armor.
Do read the whole thing.
Two things about this struck me: One, it would appear that the Department of Justice is working with one cartel and the State Department is (or was) working with a different cartel. Two, neither of these stories has any traction with the major media. UPI picked up the El Paso Times story, but I found no other major media references to it in Google. The new Business Insider piece? Crickets.
I guess Bridgeghazi is more important.
UPDATE: I contacted the reporter from the El Paso Times piece, Diana Washington Valdez, with the question “I was curious as to whether there was any follow-on to this story?” Her response:
No, because neither ATF or DEA will provide any more information. All they keep saying is that the investigation is ongoing. (I think the investigation is long over.)
This is my shocked face….