Son Of Cartel Leader Faces Life In Prison On Drug Charges

By McCarton Ackerman 09/30/14

Serafin Zambada, son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, could face life in prison.

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The son of one of the most feared cartel leaders in Mexico could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.

Serafin Zambada, 24, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a leader in Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. The younger Zambaya will face at least 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life behind bars after admitting that he conspired to bring over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 100 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico to the U.S. Zambada was arrested last year and has remained in custody ever since.

Serafin was born in Zambada and spent most of his life in the U.S. He attended high school in Phoenix and was on his way there to arrange legal status with his wife with U.S. immigration authorities when he was arrested. His attorney, Saji Vettiyil, said that Serafin “has a family, has a university degree and his involvement was quite limited compared to little people.” He is also hoping that his client’s clean criminal record will lead to a shorter sentence than the 10-year minimum.  Somewhat surprisingly, Serafin’s father did not pay for the attorney and provided no legal advice.

Last February, Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested after a yearlong investigation between U.S. and Mexican officials. Under Guzman’s leadership, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the U.S., including methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. The Chicago Crime Commission even named him their “Public Enemy No. 1” in February 2013 due to his responsibility for narcotics entering the city.

Guzman was able to bribe his way out of a Mexican prison 13 years ago, but authorities have made it clear there is no chance of that happening again. "He's locked up in the most reliable prison we have in Mexico and certainly once bitten twice shy,” said Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. "We will take our precautions in this case."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.