Feds: Sinaloa Cartel Discussed Attacking U.S. Targets

November 16, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Sinaloa drug cartel sought military grade weapons to attack an American target - possibly including the U.S. embassy in Mexico City - and then blame it on a rival cartel, according to court records.

The planned attacks were intended to send a message to the United States not to interfere in Mexico's internal affairs.

Federal prosecutors disclosed the alleged threat in court filings in a brewing cocaine trial in Chicago. They do not specify why cartel members did not follow through with the attack.

In the 63-page document, U.S. prosecutors accuse Sinaloan kingpin Ismael Zambada Niebla of meeting with leaders of the cartel in 2008. Among them was Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and Zambada's father, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.

The Sinaloa cartel sought to blow up either an American consulate, an embassy office or a news outlet. They also discussed attacking Mexican government and media buildings.

According to prosecutors, "El Chapo" Guzmán lamented: "They are (expletive) us everywhere. What are we going to do?”

And "El Mayo" Zambada responded: "It will be good to send the gringos a message. Whatever we do, we have to do it in someone else’s territory."

Guzmán’s cohorts specifically requested rocket launchers or rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) for the mission.

Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps.
The Sinaloa cartel is accused of plotting to get a rocket launcher like this one.

At the time, the Beltrán Leyva organization controlled drug trafficking through Mexico City. Prosecutors allege the Sinaloa cartel sought to bring the heat onto the Beltrán Leyva cartel with the attack.

The disclosure comes in the case of Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the brother of Ismael Zambada Niebla, who is charged with of moving tons of cocaine into the U.S. for the cartel.

In turn, he has accused the U.S. of betraying him after American drug agents agreed to work with him. He claims he smuggled illegal narcotics with the full knowledge of American federal drug agents and said he can prove it.

The pending trial is scheduled for February.