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Will Chicago Mexican Crime Organization Trials Bring to Light U.S. Gov’t Ethical Lapses?

Will Chicago Mexican Crime Organization Trials Bring to Light U.S. Gov’t Ethical Lapses?

Photo: Manuel Leija Sanchez

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The upcoming trial of Mexican drug lord Vicente Zambada-Niebla in Chicago will not only be about drug trafficking but also how the U.S. government allegedly turned a blind eye on other crimes in order to obtain intelligence information on Mexican cartels. 

Court filings, according to a recent TimeOut Chicago piece, suggest “damning details” will be revealed about the U.S. working with some of Mexico’s nastiest cartels.  Much like ATF’s ‘Fast and Furious’ operation, that put illegal guns in the hands of Mexican narco’s, it was all done all in the name of justice.

How far the U.S. government should go in order to get the bad guy is also an underlying question in the government case against Manuel Leija-Sanchez.

Leija-Sanchez and his brothers ran a $2 million-to-$3 million a year fraudulent document business with ties to Mexico, for undocumented immigrants, out of Little Village in Chicago.  The FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were on to the Leija-Sanchez’ and launched ‘Operation Paper Tiger’ that involved wire-tapping the Leija-Sanchez’ conversations. 

The taped conversations that encompass over 100 pages are key in the case against Leija-Sanchez and 21 others implicated in the fraudulent identification enterprise. 

However, in 11 pages of the transcribed wire taps, “Leija-Sanchez and his brothers allegedly conspired to murder Guillermo Jimenez-Flores, a former member of their organization who became a business rival and was allegedly shot to death in Mexico in April 2007 by co-defendant Gerardo Salazar-Rodriguez, who was paid by and conspired with the three Leija-Sanchez brothers.”

The same four defendants also allegedly conspired about the same time to kill a second victim in Mexico.

It doesn’t appear that ICE informed Mexico that one of its citizen’s was in grave danger.  In fact the wire taps reflect the detailed plans over heard by ICE on how rival Guillermo Jimenez-Flores was to be killed.  The damning audio was taken between February – April 2007; Jimenez-Flores was shot to death in Mexico in April, 2007.

Leija-Sanchez, his brothers and shooter Salazar-Rodriguez are not only implicated in the fraudulent document ring but for the conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country.  Conspiracy to produce fraudulent identification documents carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine while a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.

Did ICE not intervene on the wire tap information in order to get Leija-Sanchez on more serious charges?  Did the U.S. government have an obligation to inform the Mexican government that one of its citizen’s was in grave danger?  Did they inform Mexico and to what extent?  Who determines how far the U.S. government can go to get its bad guy?  Are these ethnical lapses acceptable in the name of justice?

All questions that maybe answered as these Mexican crime organization trials unfold in Chicago.