El Chapo aide signals he’ll help prosecutors
CHICAGO — A former top lieutenant to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and likely witness at the Mexican drug lord’s New York trial has pleaded guilty to trafficking conspiracy in Chicago, saying in a plea agreement unsealed Friday that he will cooperate with prosecutors in hopes of a reduced sentence and protection from cartel retribution for his family.
The 19page plea deal, posted in Chicago federal court, says 43yearold Vicente Zambada pleaded guilty to charges in a case originally filed in Washington, D.C., in 2002 and then transferred to Chicago this August. Zambada also agreed not to contest the government’s seizure of $1.3 billion in illgotten assets in a related case brought in Chicago in 2009.
Jury selection for Guzman’s trial in New York wrapped up this week, with opening statements set for Tuesday.