Will ‘El Chapo’ Testify Against the Sinaloa Cartel?

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Judicial authorities in Mexico have reported that imprisoned Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will serve as a witness in the case against a fellow ex-cartel operator, a development likely to spook other Sinaloa leaders.

Employees of Mexico’s federal judiciary confirmed in a radio interview that El Chapo would appear in a video conference in early October to testify in the case against Teodoro Garcia Simental, alias “El Teo,” reported Excelsior

As reported by Informador, El Teo — who faces organized crime, drug trafficking and arms charges — was the Sinaloa Cartel’s chief of operations in Baja California, prior to his 2010 capture. Before joining the Sinaloans, he had worked for the Tijuana Cartel. He is currently detained in the Altiplano prison in Mexico State — the same facility where El Chapo is being held.

InSight Crime Analysis

The news that El Chapo may testify against a key member of his own cartel is likely to be met with concern by other Sinaloa leaders, and particularly any who may have fallen out of his good graces. As the former head of the cartel, El Chapo undoubtedly possesses a wealth of information that could potentially be used to prosecute other cartel members.

SEE ALSO: El Chapo Profile

Reports gave no indications as to El Chapo’s reasons for collaborating in the present case, but it is unlikely that the drug lord — who currently faces nine criminal charges — would do so without the hope of getting something in return. It is common for drug traffickers extradited to the United States to attempt to cut deals by pleading guilty and providing key information, but it is unclear at this point whether or not El Chapo is seeking to strike a similar deal with Mexican authorities.

US authorities have reached a plea agreement with Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who was extradited to the United States in 2010 and has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine and heroin in exchange for prosecutors recommending a reduced sentence. Zambada’s deal may have involved giving prosecutors information on other high level Sinaloa operatives, although this information is not included in the plea agreement made public earlier this year. 

It remains to be seen just how much El Chapo will be willing to reveal in the present case; he may not yet be prepared to lay all his cards on the table.

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