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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Official criticizes US handling of MX drug cartel killing ... 252617.htm

    Posted on Mon, Mar. 28, 2005
    Official criticizes U.S. handling of Mexican drug cartel killings
    The Dallas Morning News

    EL PASO, Texas - (KRT) - In a newly released letter, a senior U.S. law enforcement official blasts a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its handling of a paid informant involved in a series of drug-related killings on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The letter, written by Sandalio Gonzalez, former special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's El Paso office and a 32-year law enforcement veteran, accuses agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and a U.S. prosecutor of obstructing justice and endangering the lives of American agents.

    The letter, dated Feb. 24, 2004, corroborates information about the case first reported in The Dallas Morning News more than a year ago.

    The newspaper reported that a man identified as Lalo had participated in a series of killings for a Mexican drug cartel while working as a paid informant for ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Gonzalez's letter accuses ICE of "a total disregard for human life and disrespect for the rule of law in Mexico." It alleges that ICE obstructed a murder investigation in Mexico and placed DEA agents and their families at risk by withholding information and by allowing the operation involving the informant to continue.

    "This situation is so bizarre that even as I'm writing to you it is difficult for me to believe it," Gonzalez wrote in a 2,194-word memorandum addressed to John (Giovanni) Gaudioso, then special agent in charge of ICE in El Paso. "I have never before come across such callous behavior by fellow law enforcement officers."

    Gaudioso and another ICE supervisor were transferred to Washington last year and could not be reached for comment. Calls to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington were not returned, and ICE officials in El Paso and the U.S. attorney's regional office in San Antonio, Texas, declined to comment.

    "Your questions touch on an ongoing investigation, and it's ICE's long-standing policy not to comment on pending criminal cases," said agency spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa, citing an internal investigation and the pending trial of an alleged drug trafficker connected to the case. That trial is scheduled to begin May 2 in San Antonio.

    Gonzalez, who also declined to comment, has said he was forced to take early retirement in January and is suing the U.S. government for alleged discrimination and retaliation.

    He filed a whistle-blower complaint in February with the Dallas regional office of the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent board that works on behalf of civil service employees.

    The Dallas Morning News obtained Gonzalez's letter and other documents under a Freedom of Information Act request.

    In the letter, Gonzalez alleges that U.S. prosecutor Juanita Fielden, who was conducting investigations into a cigarette-smuggling operation and the Juarez drug cartel, ordered ICE to keep information about the killings of 12 suspected drug traffickers, including a U.S. citizen, from the DEA.

    "In fact the prosecutor stated that she had ordered ICE personnel to refuse DEA access to tapes of the CS (confidential informant), while expressing concern regarding our (DEA) sharing of information with Mexican federal authorities," Gonzalez wrote to Gaudioso. "You allowed a prosecutor to make an operational decision that interfered with the investigation of a threat against the lives of fellow U.S. federal agents and their families."

    The case came to light on Jan. 14, 2004, when gunmen for the Juarez cartel inadvertently targeted two DEA agents and their families while searching for a ton of missing marijuana.

    When Lalo, the informant, told ICE agents in El Paso the names of the two targeted men, the agents realized that the two were DEA agents living in Juarez. Mexico's federal police helped to thwart an attack against the two.

    The next day, a trap set up by the informant led to the arrest in El Paso of Heriberto Santillan Tabares, alleged to be a top lieutenant in the Juarez cartel.

    "This of course begs the question, if the killers had not called the (confidential informant) to check on our agents on Jan. 14, how many more dead bodies would we have now?" Gonzalez asked in the letter.

    Similar missions by cartel operatives already had resulted in the killings of several suspected drug traffickers, including at least one U.S. citizen, who had been picked up, tortured and killed. They bodies were buried in the back yard of a residential home in Ciudad Juarez. Authorities unearthed 12 bodies there in January 2004, the month before Gonzalez wrote the letter.

    Santillan is now awaiting trial on murder and drug trafficking charges, although the U.S. government is seeking to plea bargain to avoid a trial, law enforcement officials say.

    DEA agents tried to persuade ICE to use Lalo, the informant, to help apprehend Chihuahua state police Cmdr. Miguel Angel Loya and two of his subordinates, who were suspected of working for the Juarez cartel. But ICE turned down the request as too risky.

    Loya and his associates never were apprehended. They are believed to be in hiding, reunited with the cartel or dead, U.S. and Mexican authorities have said.

    In his lawsuit against the government, Gonzalez alleges that the letter led his DEA bosses to retaliate against him by giving him a negative job-performance rating.

    They accused him of souring relations with ICE and leaking the story to the media, something Gonzalez denied in writing.

    The retaliation, Gonzalez says in the suit, was prompted by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's regional office in San Antonio declined comment.

    "If my actions made relations with ICE and the U.S. Attorney's Office worse, it wasn't because I did anything wrong but rather because I stood up for our agency and refused to go along with a facade," Gonzalez wrote in response to his performance review.
    "This country has lost control of its borders. And no country can sustain that kind of position." .... Ronald Reagan

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Oak Island, North Mexolina
    Lalo's ICE case agent should be investigated, terminated or charged or both. I would hate to think he was my snitch and commited murder while I was running him.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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