No immunity for top Mexican cartel lieutenant

April 6, 2012

MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press

A Chicago federal judge has denied an immunity claim from an admitted lieutenant in one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.

Judge Ruben Castillo issued the ruling Thursday for Vicente Zambada. His lawyers claimed U.S. agents granted immunity to Zambada and other cartel leaders in exchange for intelligence about rival cartels engaged in bloody turf wars in Mexico. U.S. prosecutors say federal agents did not have an immunity agreement with him.

Zambada was arrested in 2009 in Mexico City. He is imprisoned, awaiting an October trial in federal court. He was extradited to the United States in 2010 to face trafficking conspiracy charges punishable by up to life in prison.

His father, Ismael Zambada, runs Mexico's largest drug syndicate, the Sinaloa cartel.