WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Documents from recent court cases have shed light on U.S. law enforcement agencies' recruitment of informants in Mexican drug cartels.
A middle-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel and informant to U.S. agents was sentenced last month to life in federal prison by a judge in U.S. District Court in El Paso. Prosecutors said he informed on a rival group to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while continuing his own drug-dealing, The New York Times reported.
High-level leaders of the Sinaloa cartel are scheduled to go on trial next year in Chicago, a case that also involves informants.
Informants are also believed to have led to the arrest of an Iranian-American car dealer who allegedly tried to use gunmen from the Mexican cartels to kill the Saudi ambassador.
Morris Panner, a former assistant U.S. attorney who is now an adviser at Harvard Law School, said the informants have shown how the cartels are changing.
"Mexican organized crime groups have morphed from drug trafficking organizations into something new and far more dangerous," Panner said. "The Zetas now are active in extortion, human trafficking, money laundering, and increasingly, anything a violent criminal organization can do to make money, whether in Mexico, Guatemala or, it appears, the United States."