Crime and Violence

Son of Sinaloa Cartel leader arrested in Culiacán

Half brothers Serafin Zambada Ortíz and Ismael Zambada Imperial. Photo: Milenio.
Half brothers Serafin Zambada Ortíz and Ismael Zambada Imperial. Photo: Milenio.

11/20/14 (written by mrangel) — Federal authorities arrested yet another son of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, when members of the Mexican Army and Navy detained Ismael Zambada Imperial, also known as “El Mayito Gordo.” Zambada Imperial was arrested in Culiacán, Sinaloa on November 12, as part of an operation that included officials tracking the suspect’s location through his social media postings. He was notorious for posting pictures of his lavish lifestyle and connections to power and resources through Twitter and Facebook. Zambada Imperial was transported to Mexico City for holding and investigations by Mexico’s Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada, SEIDO).

Zambada Imperial faces charges of drug trafficking and ties to organized crime. His father, El Mayo, has long held a leadership position in the Sinaloa Cartel, but took over outright leadership following the arrest of cartel capo Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in February 2014. Since then, reports indicate that Zambada Imperial’s roll within the cartel has also grown.

Despite mixed reports, El Mayo is said to have anywhere from five to seven sons, several of which have been arrested as authorities continue to make inroads into the Sinaloa Cartel. On November 20, 2013, U.S. authorities captured Zambada Imperial’s half-brother, Serafin Zambada Ortíz (24), at the border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, while trying to enter the United States from Mexico through the pedestrian lane. Their half-brother, Vicente ‘El Vicentillo’ Zambada Niebla, was arrested several years before in 2009, and now awaits extradition to the United States to face charges of ties to organized crime.

Nevertheless, Mexican and U.S. authorities continue to pursue El Mayo, and have offered rewards of up to $30 million pesos and $5 million (USD) for information leading to his arrest, respectively.


“’El Chapo’ Guzmán arrested in Mexico.” Justice in Mexico. February 22, 2014.

“Hijo de ‘El Mayo:’ “enamorado, sinaloense y aventado.” Milenio. November 13, 2014.

“Marina mexicana detiene a Ismael Zambada Imperial, hijo de ‘el Mayo.’” CNN México. November 13, 2014.

Mosso, Rubén. “Capturan a hijo de ‘El Mayo’ Zambada.” Milenio. November 13, 2014.

Vicenteño, David. “Detienen al hijo del Mayo Zambada, el Mayito Gordo.” Excélsior. November 14, 2014.

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