Accused Member of Mexican Drug Cartel Pleads Not Guilty

February 23, 2010

A man accused of being one of the top members of a high-powered Mexican drug cartel was in federal court in Chicago today. Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla pleaded not guilty to helping bring tons of cocaine into the U.S.

At least 10 U.S. Marshals stood watch around various points in the courtroom as Zambada-Niebla was escorted in front of federal Judge Ruben Castillo. Zambada-Niebla appeared tall and skinny in his orange jumpsuit. During the brief hearing, he did not speak, but his lawyers entered a plea of not guilty.

Zambada-Niebla is charged with conspiring to bring drugs from Mexico into the U.S. Prosecutors say he helped the Sinaloa Cartel move tons of cocaine from Central and South America into Mexico and from there to Chicago.

Mexico extradited Zambada-Niebla last week.

His attorneys would not comment to the media.