The US has lifted financial sanctions against a Sinaloa Cartel turncoat whose testimony helped put Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman behind bars for life.
There has been speculation that Jesus “El Rey” Zambada is now in the witness protection program after his testimony ahead of the Mexican druglord’s 2019 conviction. But wherever he is, he’s no longer on the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions list.
A department spokesman told Reuters Zambada’s name was removed because he demonstrated a change in behavior and circumstances.
Zambada’s whereabouts and legal status aren’t known, but he’s not in the custody of the US Bureau of Prisons.
Zambada was busted in 2008 after a Mexico City gun battle, then extradited to the US four years later. Zambada and his nephew, Vicente Zambada, pleaded guilty to US charges and agreed to testify against El Chapo, accused of trafficking massive amounts of drugs into the United States.
In some memorable testimony in November of 2019, Zambada told jurors that El Chapo sparked a turf war with the Juarez cartel — over a handshake snub from the cartel leader’s brother. Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes left El Chapo hanging in 2004, Zambada said, leading to a hit on Fuentes.
He also testified that he was ordered to pay $250,000 in bribes to the Mexican military while El Chapo was on the run from authorities between 2001 and 2013.
The prosecution in El Chapo’s trial included more than 50 witnesses, 14 of them former associates, who testified about a vast and violent drug trafficking network — and the drug leader’s years on the run after two jailbreaks.
With Post wires
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