Secrecy in case against Mayo’s son
The drug-trafficking case against Serafin Zambada has remained cloaked in secrecy since his November arrest.
That might be because the 23-year-old Zambada isn’t your typical drug defendant. His father, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, is said to be one of the leaders of the Sinaloa drug cartel and one of the most wanted men in the world.
A court hearing on Friday, along with filings, are starting to shed a little light on the case, revealing a massive investigation.
Court records show the case against young Zambada is tied to at least three other investigations in San Diego involving dozens of people. About 125 phones were wiretapped and more than 100,000 interceptions logged in the two-year investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in court Friday. The case also involves 40 to 50 drug seizures inside and outside the U.S., he said.
The immense amount of evidence involved has defense attorneys' heads spinning as they begin to process it. The enormity of the discovery prompted U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw to declare the case “complex,” allowing for longer deadline.
Zambada, a U.S. citizen who was born in San Diego, is charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine and cocaine. He was arrested as he crossed into the U.S. at the border in Nogales.
It could be quite some time before more details are revealed about the charges. A protective order has been issued in the case, meaning none of the discovery given to defense attorneys is allowed to be publicly revealed.
A look at the other cases tied to the Zambada investigation show the same general charges of meth and cocaine trafficking, although little has been revealed in those files. A defendant in one of the cases, Roberto Ochoa, pleaded guilty on Friday to slashing the throats of two fellow drug traffickers. [See below]
El Chino Ántrax:
Also linked is the prosecution against Jose Arechiga Gamboa, an alleged Sinaloa enforcer who was arrested as he got off a plane in the Netherlands. He is awaiting extradition to San Diego.
Man Confesses to slashing throats for drug trafficking ring
A Tijuana man pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Friday to slashing the throats of two fellow drug traffickers in a retribution killing.
Roberto Luis Ochoa Cantu, 35, admitted to being part of a drug trafficking conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine from San Diego to South Carolina, according to the plea agreement. At some point, the San Diego-based ring believed one of its members, Hector Gonzalez, had stolen drug proceeds from the gang.
On Oct. 19, 2012, Ochoa and other members traveled to Tijuana to talk about the stolen money, then came back into the United States through the San Ysidro border crossing. Court records say the men then went to a home in San Jacinto and interrogated Gonzalez and another man, Rodolfo Robles, about the accusations.
Ochoa admitted to slitting Robles’ throat along with another man, and also slashing Gonzalez’s throat, the plea agreement states.
Riverside sheriff’s deputies found the two bodies weeks later as they conducted a welfare check on the home, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Ochoa pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional killing during the course of a drug trafficking conspiracy and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into the drug ring began in 2011 and led to the indictments of dozens of people, including Ochoa, on trafficking and money laundering charges. So far, eight have pleaded guilty and two others remain fugitives.
Arrested in Tijuana in 2008
Mexican arrest records reveal an arrest in 2008 of Ochoa. He along with three suspects attempted to rob the Banorte branch of Macro Plaza Roberto Luis Ochoa Cantu, then 29, along with Gilberto Renteria, 21, and Jesus Armando Renteria, 23, entered the bank and passed as a customer, his accomplices, waited outside.
A municipal officer responsible for the supervision of the commercial area detected suspicious movements of the accused and requested backup and the heavily armed men were arrested.
I do not have information of the result of his arrest, but it appears it was in Ochoa’s favor, as he was able to cross into the US to traffic drugs and commit the 2012 murders.
UTSD-BB and ELSol