The son of the world’s most powerful drug cartel boss has been sentenced to nine years in prison amid a succession crisis at the top of the feared criminal organisation.

Ismael ‘Mayito Gordo’ Zambada, 38, previously pleaded guilty to importing and distributing methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the US, and was sentenced at a hearing on Friday (June 24).

Addressing him, the judge said: “You admit that you became a leader within the Sinaloa Cartel and were responsible for various aspects of the cartel’s operations, specifically… the transportation and the distribution of large quantities of illicit substances.”

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Mayito Gordo will be credited with the years he’s already spent in prison and released next year

His father, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, became the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel following Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s third arrest in Mexico in 2016.

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Fortunately for Mayito Gordo, he is set to be released in just one year as he’ll be credited for time already spent in American prisons since his arrest and extradition in 2014, according to BorderlandBeat.

However, that does not mean El Mayo will have an heir for his drugs empire come 2023.

Mayito Gordo’s eldest brother, Vicente ‘El Vicentillo’ Zambada, found himself in a similar situation but wasn’t able to resume cartel activities upon his release.

El Mayo (pictured) became the Sinaloa Cartel boss following El Chapo's arrest
El Mayo (pictured) became the Sinaloa Cartel boss following El Chapo’s arrest

The 47-year-old was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and extradited to the US.

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In 2013, he struck a plea deal with US officials, agreeing to turn witness on El Chapo and eventually being handed a 15-year prison sentence.

Similarly credited for years already spent behind bars – and for his continued cooperation against El Chapo – he was released in 2021.

However, he isn’t back with the cartel and his whereabouts remain a mystery. A leading theory is that he remains guarded in American witness protection, although this has never been confirmed.

The whereabouts of El Vicentillo remain unknown
The whereabouts of El Vicentillo remain unknown

El Mayo’s other trafficker son, Serafín Zambada, also appears to be in no position to take over following a fatal car accident.

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The 32-year-old narco and his girlfriend Norma Lopez were found inside a mangled Kia in Sonora, Mexico in April this year.

Norma died on the way to hospital but he survived, despite sustaining serious injuries, and was rushed to a nearby private clinic.

There have been no updates regarding his recovery since then.

Serafín Zambada (left) was recently involved in a serious car crash
Serafín Zambada (left) was recently involved in a serious car crash

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The fate of El Mayo’s sons comes at a precarious time for the cartel boss.

Although he and El Chapo worked together to expand the Sinaloa Cartel into the world’s largest drug trafficking organisation in the 1990s, there has been a bloody civil war since the latter’s arrest.

El Mayo is fending off violent competition from a faction led by El Chapo’s sons, most notably Ovidio ‘El Raton’ Guzmán, known as Los Chapitos.


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