DEA Makes Deal with Drug Cartel

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In January 2014, the Mexican newspaper El Universal, citing court documents, reported that DEA agents have met with high-level Sinaloa officials more than 50 times since 2000. The Sinaloa drug cartel is known to be one of the most powerful cartels, with a strong presence not only in Mexico but also throughout the United States.

“The DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals and simultaneously built a network of informants who sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of charges in the US,” reports El Universal. Vincente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, stated that he was “immune from arrest or prosecution” when he was extradited to Chicago in 2010; this immunity was granted because he actively provided information to U.S. federal agents. In 2014, the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was captured in Mexico; despite corporate coverage of his arrest, none of the information about the DEA’s involvement, as documented in El Universal’s report, came to light in that coverage.   The DEA declined to comment on El Universals report.

Time ran a brief article, based on the El Universal piece on January 14, 2014 (Per Liljas, “U.S. Government Helped Rise of Mexican Drug Cartel: Report,”


Doris Gómora, “La guerra secreta de la DEA en Mexico,” El Universal, January 6, 2014,

Michael Kelley, “Confirmed: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico’s Most Notorious Drug Cartel,” January 13, 2014,

Student Researcher: Lorena Cseszlyar (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Sylvia Ramirez (University of San Francisco)