A suspected Mexican drug lord’s son who helped jail ‘El Chapo’ for life has been freed from a US jail, with officials refusing to say if he is now in witness protection.
Vicente ‘El Vicentillo’ Zambada was recently freed early from a 15-year sentence handed out a Chicago judge in May 2019. He was punished after admitting to helping plot kidnappings and murders, bribing officials in Mexico and shipping tons of drugs to the United States for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Zambada’s uncle, Jesús Zambada, also has been released from jail, according United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Zambada’s father Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada is also accused of being a drug lord, and remains at large with a $30 million reward for his capture.
The federal agency, Univision reported, refused to confirm or deny whether both individuals were under the protective custody of law enforcement and did not provide a date and reason for their release.
‘The BOP does not provide additional information on inmates who are not in the custody of the BOP or who have been released from the custody of the BOP,’ BOP spokesman Emory Nelson told the network.
No further information on the men’s whereabouts has been given. But their decision to turn on infamous drug lord El Chapo – full name Joaquin Guzman – means they will likely have to go into hiding for the rest of their lives to escape revenge from Guzman’s associates, many of whom remain loyal to the fallen cartel boss.
Vicente ‘El Vicentillo’ Zambada, pictured in Mexico City in 2009, helped put infamous drug lord El Chapo away for life. He has been freed from a US prison, but a spokesman refused to say whether he was in protective custody
Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán after arriving in New York on January 19, 2017 after his extradition from Mexico. He was jailed for life in February 2019, and now languishes at the notorious ADX Florence ‘supermax’ prison in Colorado
Vicente Zambada had been scheduled for a 2022 prison release as part of a reduced sentenced for his cooperation in El Chapo’s trial and would have had his name changed as a protected witness.
‘The Marshals Service does not confirm or deny any information about anyone who may or may not participate in the Witness Security Program,’ US Marshals spokesman James P. Stossel told Univision on Friday. ‘We also do not provide details on prisoner movements.’
Zambada, the son of fugitive cartel leader Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, kept a low profile that has shielded him from ever being arrested
But he turned on the organization that his father co-founded with El Chapo after detectives caught up with him in Mexico in March 2009, He was arrested and extradited to Chicago in February 2010, and admitted a host of crimes in 2013.
The 46-year-old had been entrenched in the transnational criminal organization since his teenage years and rose to the top, coordinating the shipments of drugs from South America.
Vicente Zambada set up shop in the Mexican province of Sinaloa and directed the distribution of narcotics to the Unites States.
He was detained by police at a Mexico City hotel following a meeting with Drug Enforcement Administration agents. He challenged U.S. prosecutors in court by arguing that the DEA agents had promised him immunity in exchange for turning on the powerful cartel.
The United States Department of Justice is offering a reward of $5million for information leading to the arrest of Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada-Garcia, co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel
Vicente ‘El Vicentillo’ Zambada is pictured testifying against Guzman on January 3, 2019 in Brooklyn
Zambada eventually turned on his father, El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel in 2011 and provided authorities valuable information regarding the organization’s drug smuggling routes and criminal ties. He pleaded guilty on April 3, 2013.
On January 3, 2019, Zambada appeared in the stand for almost six hours during El Chapo’s high-profile trial in New York and offered information on how the cartel laundered money and how El Chapo and his father used submarines, trains, airplanes and vehicles to traffic drugs.
Zambada told the court the cartel had a stash meant only to pay at least $1 million a month in bribes to authorities in Mexico.
Jesús Zambada, the brother of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada was released from a U.S. prison recently
He also said the current president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, and his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, were bribed with a $1 million in exchange for allowing the Sinaloa Cartel to operate in the Central American country.
El Chapo, who was extradited from Mexico to New York in January 2017, was convicted on 10 counts in February 2019. The federal jury found him guilty of drug trafficking, murder conspiracy, use of a gun in crimes involving drugs and money laundering. He was convicted in July 2019 to life in prison plus 30 years.
He is being held at ADX Florence, a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, that is home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, including ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef