The conviction of Ismael Zambada-Imperial, son of the Sinaloa Cartel’s top leader, in the United States may be a headline-grabber but does nothing to blunt the group’s ability to bring drugs into the country.
On April 30, Ismael Zambada-Imperial, alias “Mayito Gordo,” pleaded guilty to importing cocaine, marijuana and heroin from Mexico into the United States at a hearing in the Southern District of California. He has also agreed to forfeit $5 million in drug trafficking proceeds.
Zambada-Imperial, the son of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo,” was arrested in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in 2014 after Mexican authorities tracked his movements due to his frequent posts on social media, where he made lavish displays of wealth.
His lawyers fought to prevent his extradition to the United States but he was finally transferred to San Diego, California in December 2019.
According to the Justice Department statement, Zambada-Imperial’s arrest and subsequent conviction came as part of an investigation that began in 2011 concerning the Sinaloa Cartel smuggling drugs into National City and Chula Vista, California.
“This case is part of a multi-year investigation that, in total, has resulted in charges against over 125 people and has had a significant impact on the worldwide operations of the Sinaloa Cartel,” read the statement.
He is the third of El Mayo’s sons to be jailed in the United States on drug trafficking charges. Jesús Vicente Zambada Niebla, alias “El Vicentillo,” was extradited in 2010 and was sentenced to 15 years in 2019, after testifying in the trial of Sinaloa kingpin, Joaquin Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo.” And Serafín Zambada Ortiz was arrested in Nogales, Arizona, in 2013 but secured a relatively lenient five-year sentence and was released in 2018.