The son of a top-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel was arrested while walking across the border into Nogales on Wednesday.
Serafin Zambada-Ortiz, 23, son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada-Garcia, the reputed No. 2 leader of the Sinaloa Cartel headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tucson on Thursday, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
Serafin Zambada, who is a U.S. citizen born in San Diego, is scheduled to appear again at court on Monday at 10:30 a.m. for a detention hearing, identity hearing, and removal hearing. Federal prosecutors plan to remove Zambada to San Diego, but no dates have been set, according to the press release issued Friday evening after the Mexican news media broke the story of the arrest.
He is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, according to Cosme Lopez, spokesman for the Department of Justice.
Serafin Zambada was indicted on Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on the charge of conspiracy to import methamphetamine and cocaine, according to a grand jury indictment. If convicted, he faces at least one year in prison and will forfeit to the United States all rights to property and profits obtained through the alleged illegal activity.
“He has a spotless record and he’s presumed to be innocent under the law,” said his Nogales-based lawyer Saji Vettiyil. “He’s looking forward to the day he can clear his name in the court of law and has the utmost faith in the judicial system.”
Serafin is the second Zambada son in federal custody in the United States. El Mayo’s oldest son Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and extradited to the United States in February 2010 after a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted him, his father, Guzman and dozens of others on drug-trafficking charges.
El Mayo’s brother Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia was arrested by Mexican authorities in October 2008 and is awaiting extradition to the United States on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges.
April 2012, a federal grand jury in West Texas indicted Guzman, El Mayo and 22 other people under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, holding them responsible for the operations and management of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Serafin Zambada was traveling with his wife, who was detained and then released, when he was arrested, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Karime Ellameli Torres-Acosta is the daughter of Manuel Torres-Felix. aka “El Ondeado” or “El M1,” the leader of a Sinaloa Cartel cell who was killed during a shootout with the Mexican Army in Culiacan, Sinaloa in October 2012.