November 1, 2012
The U.S. government allowed Mexican drug cartel hit men working as “confidential informants” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to murder people inside the United States, an American federal law enforcement supervisor told the private intelligence firm Stratfor in e-mails released by WikiLeaks. ICE neither confirmed nor denied the allegations when contacted by The New American.
The explosive leaked documents containing the claims were part of a massive batch of e-mails stolen by hackers from the Texas-based intelligence-gathering firm. Among other startling allegations, official sources in the Mexican and U.S. governments told the company that American special-operations forces were in Mexico under the guise of fighting the drug war.
Additionally, a U.S.-based Mexican diplomat and other sources claimed that Washington, D.C., was working with certain favored drug cartels — especially Sinaloa — in an effort to put smaller criminal organizations out of business. The e-mails echoed allegations made in numerous reports and statements by officials, drug-cartel operatives, and other sources, indicating that the U.S. government was deeply involved in the narcotics trade.
Perhaps the most astounding information, however, had to do with the U.S. government allegedly allowing Mexican cartel hit men across the border into the United States to murder targets. A Stratfor source identified in the documents as “US714,” whom the firm described as a “US law enforcement officer with direct oversight of border investigations,” made that explosive accusation in an e-mail dated April of last year.
“Regarding ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] screwing up informants: They [ICE] were handling big hit men from Juarez and letting them kill in the U.S.,” explained the federal law enforcement supervisor, who in a separate e-mail also said American troops were already in Mexico engaged in joint operations with Mexican forces.
Instead of expressing shock about the major allegations against ICE, a Stratfor employee responded by mentioning that the intelligence-gathering outfit had already written about the issue, pointing to a 2009 piece published online entitled “Confidential Informants: A Double-Edged Sword.” In that article, Stratfor highlighted the story of a confidential ICE informant, Ruben Rodriguez Dorado, who was involved in the murder of yet another confidential ICE source in Texas.
When asked by The New American about the federal law enforcement supervisor’s allegations in the correspondence with Stratfor, ICE refused to either confirm or deny the accusations. Instead, ICE spokesman Brandon Montgomery with the Department of Homeland Security offered a statement explaining the importance of confidential informants to criminal investigations.
“Confidential Informants (CI) are an extremely valuable and necessary part of law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations. One of the most effective ways to do this is by turning insiders within these organizations and utilizing their information as CIs,” Montgomery explained. “Insiders can provide information that cannot be obtained through any other means.”
According to Montgomery, ICE will substitute an undercover federal agent for its confidential informant as soon as possible to ensure that the investigation is carried out by trained law enforcement professionals. “ICE initiates a CI through a regulated and controlled process and ICE takes significant steps, including training of ICE agents and audits of CI files when working with CIs,” the spokesman concluded.
Analysts focused on the Mexican drug war and the roles of U.S. officials, meanwhile, were not surprised by the most recent allegations leveled against ICE either. In fact, as noted by multiple analysts, it would not be the first time that the U.S. government has been involved in eerily similar scandals.
“Though Stratfor source US714’s revelation may seem too dark to be true, Narco News has already documented, via the multi-yearHouse of Death investigative series, that ICE, with the approval of US prosecutors, allowed one of its informants to participate in multiple murders inside Mexico in order to make a drug case,” wrote investigative reporter Bill Conroy, one of the premier journalists covering the broader drug war.
The so-called “House of Death” scandal surrounded another ICE informant, Guillermo “Lalo” Ramirez Peyro, who was simultaneously working with the Juarez cartel. In that case, federal officials knew their paid informant was involved in torture and multiple murders, yet continued to give him what numerous analysts and other officials described as a “license to kill.”
When the truth eventually came out, the federal government fired the customs agent, Raul Bencomo, who was “handling” the murderous CI. But according to Bencomo, he was simply made into a scapegoat to protect higher-ranking officials at ICE and their bosses all the way into the heart of the federal government who knew exactly what was happening.
“He [CI ‘Lalo’] would report a murder, and either we heard it on a phone, nobody told us to stop doing the case,” Bencomo toldNPR in a 2010 interview after being fired over the scandal. “We were told to continue, so for them to say that they didn’t know about it, that is a total lie.”
Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council (LEOAC) chief Andy Ramirez told The New American that there were some differences between the “House of Death” scandal and the more recent allegations surrounding ICE. For one, the informant was not killing in the United States — those murders took place at a property in Mexico.
When that scandal began to unravel, though, a cover-up began almost immediately, said Ramirez, who tried to get lawmakers to investigate. “Lalo was locked away with an attempt to deport him to Mexico that lasted several years until we got Congress involved in Lalo’s case,” he explained. “But the ‘hey’ here is DOJ and DHS knew and knew the Mexican government knew. Mexico ultimately wanted border and immigration policies changed by Junior Bush’s Administration almost immediately.”
According to Ramirez, such facts have become “common” considering what he described as “mismanagement” by DHS, to which ICE answers, as well as the Department of Justice. “CIs are used for what they can gain info-wise and then hung out to dry without thought, just as our Border Patrol Agents are,” Ramirez said.
But there is a reason not much has been done to investigate the problems, let alone hold anyone accountable. “Congress has ignored the criminality of these cases in order to protect their presidents as titular party heads,” said Ramirez, who regularly speaks out against abuses under both parties. “I know because I reported the House of Death case personally to the Hill and was ignored by what up to that point were ‘friends’.”
While working with confidential informants is hazardous by its very nature — they tend to be hardened criminals, often have ulterior motives, and can sometimes be serving as “double agents” — the questions being raised must be addressed. Was ICE deliberately allowing cartel hit men to murder in the United States? What sort of investigation, giving ICE the benefit of the doubt, could possibly justify such a scheme?
Even more importantly, perhaps, are accusations that the U.S. federal government is actually at the heart of the drug trade itself — allegations made by top officials and analysts on both sides of the border as well as by criminal operatives. The Obama administration continues to stonewall congressional investigations into DEA drug-money laundering, ATF gun running in Fast and Furious, and more. The CIA, meanwhile, has also been accused of deep involvement in the drug trade for decades, and even recently.
Whether or not the whole truth will ever emerge about the federal government’s nefarious activities surrounding the drug wars remains unclear. But from what is already known, the picture that emerges is highly disturbing, according to analysts — at least that much is clear. Activists say it is past time for Congress to find out what exactly is going on and hold those responsible for criminal activity to account.
This article was posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:23 am