Trump: Now an Agent of the American Police State

If you thought the militarized police response to Ferguson and Baltimore was bad, brace yourselves. Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to President Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse. To be fair, Trump did not create this totalitarian nightmare. However, he has legitimized it and, in so doing, has also accelerated the pace at which we fall deeper into the clutches of outright tyranny.

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Show Notes

“Battlefield Main Street: Pentagon Project Lets Police Forces – Even in Small Towns – Arm Themselves With Military Gear,” The Daily

“Congress Quietly Passed a Bill Allowing Warrantless Searches of Homes—Only 1% Opposed It,” The Free Thought Project

“Trump to Fully Restore Military Surplus Transfers to Police,” The New York Times

“Trump lifts ban on military gear to local police forces,” USA Today

“From Mayberry to Ferguson, the rise of the modern cop,” The Washington Post

“Local Cops Ready for War With Homeland Security-Funded Military Weapons,” The Daily Beast

“America’s police are looking more and more like the military,” The Guardian

“West Lafayette police acquire military vehicle,” Indy Star

“The cops at Ohio State have an armored fighting vehicle now,” The Daily Caller

“Police Are Getting the Military’s Leftover Armored Trucks,” The New York Times

“Drawing Down: How To Roll Back Police Militarization In America,” The Huffington Post

“Seattle police department has network that can track all Wi-Fi enabled devices,” Raw Story

“Little oversight seen in military surplus giveaways,” Associated Press

“The militarization of U.S. police forces,” Reuters

“Does military equipment lead police officers to be more violent? We did the research,” The Washington Post

“The Shocking Tales of 11 of the Most Over the Top US Police Paramilitary Raids and the Innocent People They Victimized,” Alternet

“Why Are Police Unions Blocking Reform?” The New Yorker

“The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me,’” Counterpunch

Battlefield America Is the New Normal: We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Rutherford Institute

American Made: CIA & Hollywood Join Forces To Spin One of The Biggest U.S. Drug Lords

In this Newsbud exclusive we examine the long standing relationship between the government and Hollywood. Specifically, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency and their influence over the film and television industry. In this jam packed expose, Newsbud is joined by investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker as he is calling foul on the upcoming Hollywood production American Made. The Movie American Made is allegedly based on the true story of the famous drug runner Barry Seal who allegedly worked for the CIA, the DEA and Pablo Escobar. Investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker is an expert on the illegal drug trade, the CIA and Barry Seal. Find out why Hopsicker is raising hell exclusively at Newsbud.com

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MadCow News

The CIA has to approve every script for spy drama The Americans

An offer they couldn't refuse

EXPOSED: CIA AND PENTAGON MADE 1,800+ MOVIES, TV SERIES TO 'MAKE AMERICA LOVE WAR'

One Man In The Department Of Defense Controls All Of Hollywood's Access To The Military

How the CIA Hoodwinked Hollywood

Newsbud Exclusive- NATO-CIA-Pentagon: Junction of the Real Druglords & Warlords_

The Casualties of CIA-NATO Afghan Operations Include Heroin-Related Deaths

Are you aware of the heroin epidemic that has been on fire all across America- since 2001? Thanks to the government-corporate media outlets you probably are not.

Between 2002 and 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths in the US quadrupled, with more than 10,000 people dying of heroin overdoses in America in 2014 alone. Afghanistan has been the number one source globally of both opium and heroin:

Heroin from Afghanistan has killed more people than the 55,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. An American now gets killed every 32 minutes by Afghan heroin. With US heroin deaths tripling every four years, an American will get killed by heroin every 16 minutes by 2020.

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2016 that number went up to 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users).Heroin deaths shot up from 1,779 in 2001 to 10,574 in 2014 as Afghan opium poppy fields metastasized from 7,600 hectares in 2001 (when the US-NATO War in Afghanistan began) to 224,000 hectares in 2016. (One hectare equals approximately 2.5 acres). Ironically, the so-called US eradication operation in Afghanistan has cost an estimated $8.5 billion in American taxpayer funds since the US-NATO-Afghan war started in October 2001.

Interestingly, while the mainstream and pseudo-alternative media outlets keep playing up drugs from Mexico, we hardly hear a peep on the massive amount of Afghan-sourced heroin. To put it in perspective: In 2014, according to the DEA drug threat assessment, Mexico produced an estimated 42 metric tons of heroin. Afghanistan produced 6,400 metric tons of opium that same year. The largest share of US heroin is Afghanistan-sourced. It is coming from US-occupied Afghanistan. There is no other mathematical possibility:

Mexico with 10,500 hectares of opium could not possibly supply even 1/20th of the heroin demand in the US. What has the DEA been doing about the vast majority of heroin which is coming in from Afghanistan?

Looking at facts and figures regarding the heroin epidemic, it becomes obvious that the DEA has been a colossal failure and they refuse to answer most questions asked of them. Perhaps, the DEA would answer questions (or plead the 5th) at Congressional Hearings.

First, ‘the Mexicans did it” which is to say that the 173 tons of raw opium from Latin America (from 10,500 hectares in Mexico and 1,500 hectares in Colombia) were converted into 17.3 tons of heroin and all 17.3 tons were imported into the US, where it would not supply even 5% of the US heroin demand.

If all countries on Earth growing opium, except Afghanistan, were to convert their opium to heroin and send it to the US, it wouldn’t be enough for even half of the current US heroin demand.

With the obvious parallels and undeniable correlations, any critical mind would begin spewing the following questions: How did Afghan opium spread from 7,600 hectares prior to the US-NATO invasion to 224,000 hectares since the invasion? What is the correlation between US heroin deaths rising from 1,779 in 2000-pre Afghan invasion, to more than 10,000 in 2014 alone?

Parallels & Flashbacks

Forty years ago the United States was hit by another major heroin epidemic. During the 1970’s, during the Vietnam War, heroin making its way to the United States from the Golden Triangle became an epidemic. It was estimated that more than 200,000 people in New York City alone were using heroin. At one point in time, you were able to find used syringes on public playgrounds. As in the case of Afghanistan, the CIA-Pentagon WarLords-DrugLords were at the top of the chain:

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the CIA recruited the Laotian Hmong tribe to fight communist forces in the region. The CIA encouraged the Hmong to grow opium instead of rice to make them dependent on CIA air drops of food. The agency could then force their compliance by threatening to withdraw the food aid. To make the deal even sweeter, they even located a heroin refinery at CIA headquarters in northern Loas and used Air America, a passenger and cargo airline that was covertly owned and operated by the CIA, to export the Laotian opium and heroin. Much of it ended up in Vietnam, causing an epidemic of heroin addiction in US soldiers.

CIA ties to international drug trafficking goes back to the Korean War:

In 1949, two of Chiang Kai-shek's defeated generals, Li Wen Huan and Tuan Shi Wen, marched their Third and Fifth Route armies, with families and livestock, across the mountains to northern Burma. Once installed, the peasant soldiers began cultivating the crop they knew best, the opium poppy.

When China entered the Korean War, the CIA had a desperate need for intelligence on that nation. The agency turned to the warlord generals, who agreed to slip some soldiers back into China. In return, the agency offered arms. Officially, the arms were intended to equip the warlords for a return to China. In fact, the Chinese wanted them to repel any attack by the Burmese.

Soon intelligence began to flow to Washington from the area, which became known as the Golden Triangle. So, too, did heroin, en route to Southeast Asia and often to the United States…

The CIA did, however, lobby the Eisenhower administration to prevent the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the DEA's predecessor, from establishing monitoring posts in the area to study the traffic.

Let’s take a few documented facts from records and reports submitted to the US Congress in 1999 by FAS:

1960s- In support of the US war in Vietnam, the CIA renewed old and cultivated new relations with Laotian, Burmese and Thai drug merchants, as well as corrupt military and political leaders in Southeast Asia. Despite the dramatic rise of heroin production, the agency's relations with these figures attracted little attention until the early 1970s.

MAY 1970- A Christian Science Monitor correspondent reported that the CIA `is cognizant of, if not party to, the extensive movement of opium out of Laos,' quoting one charter pilot who claimed that `opium shipments get special CIA clearance and monitoring on their flights southward out of the country.' At the time, some 30,000 US service men in Vietnam were addicted to heroin.

1972-The full story of how Cold War politics and US covert operations fueled a heroin boom in the Golden Triangle broke when Yale University doctoral student Alfred McCoy published his ground-breaking study, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. The CIA attempted to quash the book.

1973- Thai national Puttapron Khramkhruan was arrested in connection with the seizure of 59 pounds of opium in Chicago. A CIA informant on narcotics trafficking in northern Thailand, he claimed that the agency had full knowledge of his actions. According to the US Justice Department, the CIA quashed the case because it might `prove embarrassing because of Mr. Khramkhruans's involvement with CIA activities in Thailand, Burma, and elsewhere.'

For those who consider alternative media outlets such as Newsbud conspiracy hubs, here is a report, albeit watered-down, by the New York Times, published in 1993:

During the Vietnam War, operations in Laos were largely a CIA responsibility. The agency's surrogate there was a Laotian general, Vang Pao, who commanded Military Region 2 in northern Laos. He enlisted 30,000 Hmong tribesmen in the service of the CIA.

These tribesmen continued to grow, as they had for generations, the opium poppy. Before long, someone - there were unproven allegations that it was a Mafia family from Florida - had established a heroin refining lab in Region Two. The lab's production was soon being ferried out on the planes of the CIA's front airline, Air America. A pair of BNDD agents tried to seize an Air America.

A pair of BNDD agents tried to seize an Air America DC-3 loaded with heroin packed into boxes of Tide soap powder. At the CIA's behest, they were ordered to release the plane and drop the inquiry.

Author and activist William Blum noted in his book Rogue State, “The CIA flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia, to sites where the opium was processed into heroin, and to trans-shipment points on the route to Western customers.”

Do you remember the Iran Contra scandal and the days when Crack Cocaine was the major drug that destroyed communities and lives across the United States in the early 1980’s? Another fact obscured by the mainstream media, so that many still have either not heard about it or consider it another conspiracy story.

The United States supported the Contras in their fight against the Sandanista government in Nicaragua. Officially barred from arming and funding the Contras by Congress, the CIA came up with a scheme to sell arms to Iran and use the funds to illegally arm and supply the Contras. CIA-protected drug smugglers flew down to Nicaragua loaded with arms to supply the Contras and flew back loaded with Columbian cocaine. A decade later, investigative reporter Gary Webb used official government documents to prove that the CIA had sheltered these drug smuggling operatives and followed the trail of this cheap Columbian cocaine to the beginning of the crack epidemic in South-Central LA. Ironically, again, during this same period American Taxpayers were funding DEA operations that were supposedly countering crack-cocaine suppliers and operations. [READ MORE]

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NarcoNews: DEA Prostitute Scandal Isn’t Agency’s Only Trick

Drug-War Agency’s Latin America Operations Tarnished by a Pattern of Unaddressed Corruption Allegations

Bill Conroy

The current scandal over Colombian narco-traffickers paying prostitutes to provide sex services to DEA agents has an even deeper footprint in the agency than the current head of the DEA has conceded, court records stemming from past DEA operations reveal.

A March report by the Department of Justice Inspector General’s office that first revealed the allegations publicly indicates the sex parties with DEA agents and prostitutes in Colombia played out between 2005 and 2008. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart wasn’t made aware of those activities until around 2012, according to the IG report.

“This has been a very difficult week for DEA, with members of Congress and the media asking tough questions and sharing our outrage about the disgraceful conduct of a few individuals several years ago,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart states in an email sent to employees earlier this month.“This employee misconduct has upset me for many reasons, but especially because it calls into question the incredible reputation DEA has built over more than 40 years.”

The House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the charges, recently released a report based on DEA documents that indicates some of the illicit activities in Colombia actually date back to 2001 but involved only a handful of agents.

Court records reviewed by Narco News, however, show DEA agents in Latin America were hooking up with prostitutes as far back as the late 1990s as part of a much broader pattern of alleged corruption involving DEA’s operations in Colombia.

A 2002 internal DEA report filed as an exhibit in a DEA agent’s wrongful termination lawsuit includes claims that a narco-trafficker and money launder turned DEA informant “prepaid the services of prostitutes” for as many as five DEA agents in Panama in the late 1990s. Those agents were assisting an operation that was making use of one of the more interesting characters in the shadows of the drug war.

That individual, Baruch Vega, served as a “foreign intelligence source” for the CIA, litigation documents reveal, while also doing work for the DEA and FBI in Latin America. As part of his work for the DEA in the late 1990s, Vega played the role of a broker of sorts charged with convincing key narco-trafficking figures in Colombia to negotiate favorable plea deals with the US government, court records reveal. Some of those narco-traffickers then went on to serve as cooperating sources for U.S. agencies, according to Vega.

Many of the negotiations with the Colombian narco-traffickers took place in Panama with DEA agents present, Vega claims. He described the DEA agents’ liaisons with prostitutes as a “very normal” part of the process.

“We would go for dinner with these narco-traffickers to negotiate their surrender to DEA, and after they would say, ‘Lets invite some girls,” Vega recounted in a recent interview with Narco News. “Then everyone would go out somewhere and the narco-traffickers would hire prostitutes to mingle with the agents, and the narco-traffickers would pay for it. This happened on several occasions in Panama, and in Colombia as well.”

Vega said the prostitutes didn’t know their clients were DEA agents, “but it’s possible when the narco-traffickers hired the girls, they told them they were agents.” He added that the ironic part of the arrangement was that the narco-traffickers would be “dating beautiful models” while the DEA agents would “be with the prostitutes.”

The 2002 DEA internal report is a small puzzle piece in a much larger web of intrigue and alleged corruption involving DEA’s operations in Colombia. Another piece of the puzzle surfaced in a leaked memo drafted in 2004 by a DOJ attorney named Thomas Kent. In that memo, Kent referred to DEA operations carried out in Colombia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He alleged that DEA agents in Bogota were on the payroll of narco-traffickers, engaging in money laundering for Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups, and conspiring to murder their own informants to protect their corrupt schemes.

Mike Levine, a former deep undercover DEA agent who now serves as an expert court witness, said the rot inside DEA is far deeper than the current “sexcapade” scandal. In a legal case involving Colombian narco-traffickers as DEA targets that Levine recently investigated as an expert witness, he said he “documented something like $20 million in funds stolen by DEA and/or task force agents.” …

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Tor’s PR Moves May Violate Law

Peter B. Collins Presents Journalist Yasha Levine

Updating his reports on the Tor encryption system, Yasha Levine of Pando reveals that Tor management has added a staff public relations person and Thomson Communications, a corporate PR firm that has represented the telco Verizon. The assignment appears to be to reshape perceptions of Tor following Pando’s exposure that most Tor funding comes from the State Department and its Broadcast Board of Governors. The taxpayer-funded PR offensive appears to directly violate the law banning attempts to influence public opinion in the US. Levine also comments on the indicted DEA and Secret Service agents accused of using Tor to steal bitcoin in the Silk Road case, and on the recent “dick pic” interview of Ed Snowden by HBO’s John Oliver.

*Yasha Levine is an investigative reporter for Pando.com. He is grateful for the success of his Kickstarter campaign to fund his new book project, Surveillance Valley.

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NarcoNews: Millions Missing From DEA Money-Laundering Operation

… But No One With the Power to Investigate Seems to Care

By Bill Conroy

At least $20 million went missing from money seizures by law enforcers, critical evidence was destroyed by a federal agency, a key informant was outed by a US prosecutor — contributing to her being kidnapped and nearly killed — and at the end of the day not a single narco-trafficker was prosecuted in this four-year-long DEA undercover operation gone awry.

Those revelations surfaced in a recently decided court case filed in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC.

“Throughout this protracted litigation, the agency [DEA] delayed producing documents until the 11th hour and destroyed potentially relevant evidence,“ states Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams in an Aug. 30 ruling awarding the informant in the case, with the code name “Princess,” more than $1.1 million. “…The conclusion that there were missing trafficker funds is supported by … DEA documents, including a statement by [a] DEA confidential informant.”

The Princess, a former airline stewardess and mother of two, lived in the US but hailed from an upper-crust Colombian family. Though her two former husbands had ties to the drug trade, she had a clean record and was essentially “scammed” into working as an informant by the threat of prosecution, court records reveal. Consequently, she was completely out of her league in taking on an extremely dangerous undercover role in the world of transnational crime, where she was charged with posing as a money launder to rope in high-level Colombian narco-traffickers for the DEA.

During the course of her undercover assignment, which played out in the early to mid-1990s, she was the target of death threats and even a foiled plot on her life after her cover was compromised. It was blown both by DEA negligence in money-seizing operations and as a result of an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago disclosing her “status as a confidential informant to a criminal defendant whom the Princess had lured to the United States to be arrested,” the judge’s ruling reveals.

Even after all that, her DEA handlers still sent the Princess back into Colombia to meet with narco-traffickers, with her cover blown, leading to her being kidnapped and held for ransom for some three months “in a windowless, dirt-floor room where she slept on a straw mattress,” court records indicate.

She narrowly averted death due to the intervention of a “criminal associate of many high-level Cali mafia members” who also was a DEA cooperating source in Colombia. The source negotiated her release with a payment of $350,000 from his own funds, because DEA refused to negotiate officially with “terrorists.”

But the subtext to this story goes far deeper than a tale of a botched DEA operation — one that allegedly laundered in excess of $60 million for the narco-traffickers, with more than $20 million still missing, and which, in the end, produced no prosecutions (other than that of a Florida DEA agent, who was convicted of skimming some $700,000 from a money pick-up location in Houston and received a two-year sentence.)

Mike Levine, a former deep undercover DEA agent and supervisor who examined copious DEA documents related to this case as an expert witness for Princess’ lawyers, goes as far as to say in his report to the court that the law enforcers involved with the operation were likely stealing millions from the narco-trafficker funds seized in the operation and may well have been complicit in Princess’ kidnapping.

Princess’ [the informant's] undercover role posing as a money launderer made her the responsible party for money shortages, of which a large number were noted in reporting, including the theft of … trafficker funds by a corrupt DEA agent, Rene De La Cova, and likely other corrupt agents whom, due to an absence of DEA oversight, have managed to thus far elude identification. Each of these [money] shortages placed Princess, the one whom the traffickers would blame for the missing money, in clear and present danger of homicide and/or kidnapping, unless resolved.

… The Princess Operation, as a result of lax and/or non-existent oversight by DEA Headquarters, was utilized by corrupt [US law] officers to steal trafficker funds, pad expense accounts, indulge in heavy drinking and the taking of high-expense boondoggle trips, while the safety and security of Princess went entirely ignored, resulting with her predictable kidnapping.

Levine, when asked about the case by Narco News, also provided the following details concerning his testimony before the court:

At one point, the prosecutor cross-examined me by asking if I thought the agents handling Princess were plotting to kill Princess by exposing her to one deadly situation after the other until she was killed. I testified (paraphrased according to my memory) that with more than $20 million missing and unaccounted for, and in consideration of the way they were handling her, it was a reasonable possibility.

The judge later that day ordered that the case be investigated by the US Attorney General's office. …As you can see, the secrecy surrounding this thing is astonishing. I mean it is certainly not to protect Princess.

Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop

The so-called Operation Princess was overseen by the assistant special agent in charge of DEA’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office and was a US Attorney General-sanctioned money-laundering sting. The DEA agents, operating in conjunction with local law enforcers via a task force, used Princess to convince Colombian narco-traffickers to provide her money to launder through her accounts. Princess would charge a fee (a percentage) for the service, and after taking that cut would deliver the laundered cash to accounts controlled by the narco-traffickers.

That was the pretense. In reality, the cash was being picked up at numerous points in the US by the DEA task-force agents and deposited in undercover bank accounts controlled by DEA and then sent to the narco-traffickers after extracting the fees, which were used to fund the DEA operation. Essentially, DEA was in the money-laundering business. The ostensible goal was to follow the money and build evidence to prosecute key figures in the narco-trafficking network.

The way it played out, though, according to Levine and court records, is despite the four years that the money-laundering operation was in play, from late 1991 to 1995, no prosecutions resulted and at least $20 million went missing, unaccounted for in DEA documents — which were either destroyed or nonexistent. Yet only one DEA agent was prosecuted — allegedly for skimming a tiny fraction of the missing cash, $700,000.

To date, DEA has failed to account for that missing money, Levine stresses, hence the judge’s request for an inquiry by the US Attorney General’s office, which oversees the Department of Justice under which DEA operates.

Princess’ lawsuit sought damages from DEA for the long-term serious consequences that her kidnapping had on her health. She claims the ordeal sparked a serious nervous-system disorder that has left her debilitated. The judge’s August ruling found in her favor, ordering DEA to pay out in excess of $1.1 million to cover the cost of the now-former informant’s future health-care costs.

One former federal agent explains that money-laundering operations, such as Operation Princess, are supposed to be under strict controls to prevent skimming. He says absent those controls, which include auditing the books regularly and assuring money from pick-ups or seizures is counted promptly and accurately, it’s not difficult for a greedy agent to skim money off the top.

“When you’re chasing people who are moving cash, and there’s two or three bags of money [at a pick-up location], it’s real easy to stick a bundle of cash in a brief case,” the federal agent explains.

And no one is the wiser — other than the narco-traffickers who provided the money in the first place. Once they check their accounts, after the money is laundered (by DEA), and see the amount is light by $1 million or $2 million, who are they going to blame? In this case, Levine says, they blamed the Princess, figuring she was either a thief or a DEA informant, or both.

It’s the perfect crime, so long as DEA brass decides to look the other way, for fear of embarrassing the agency or undermining a big-budget operation.

The Kent Memo

This isn’t the first time that alleged corruption within DEA has surfaced in relation to Colombian narco-traffickers, informants and money laundering. Similar allegations of DEA corruption were alleged in what is now known as the Kent Memo.

Narco News broke that story in 2006, based on a leaked memo drafted by Department of Justice attorney Thomas M. Kent that referred to DEA operations carried out in Colombia and the US in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the memo, written in December 2004, Kent alleges that DEA agents in Bogotá, Colombia, assisted narco-traffickers, engaged in money laundering for Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups, and conspired to murder informants.

Kent’s memo also alleges that investigations into the alleged corruption carried out by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) were derailed and whitewashed by officials within those watchdog agencies.

A CIA “foreign-intelligence source” named Baruch Vega, key to DEA operations at the center of the Kent Memo, also says some of his informants, were, in fact, murdered due to leaks inside DEA and the US Embassy in Bogotá.

Vega claims he was used by multiple US law enforcement agencies simultaneously in the late 1990s and early 2000s to infiltrate and flip key narco-trafficking figures in Colombia — by convincing them to negotiate favorable plea deals with the US government. Some of those narco-traffickers went on to serve as assets for US agencies.

“I know exactly her [the Princess’] whole case.,” Vega claimed, in an interview with Narco News. “It’s exactly the same group [of allegedly corrupt US law enforcers involved]. Nothing changed at all. That was beginning of the North Valley Cartel [in Colombia]. The North Valley Cartel became very powerful immediately after the Cali Cartel was jeopardized by the same group [of US agents].”

Vega contends that the North Valley Cartel was a union of corrupt US law enforcers, including DEA agents; corrupt Colombian National Police; paramilitaries known as the AUC; and Colombian narco-traffickers. The NVC rose to dominance in Colombia in the late1990s and beyond with the demise of the Cali Cartel and traces its roots back to Los Pepes …

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

NarcoNews- U.S. Military: More Counter-Narcotics Funding Will Help Stem Exodus of Children from Central America

Critics Argue Drug-War Money is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

By Bill Conroy

Some 58,000 migrant children, mostly Central Americans, have made the treacherous journey to the U.S. southern border alone over the past 10 months, but actions being considered by U.S. officials to combat the problem with more military and drug-war aid to their countries, critics warn, may worsen the violence that provokes this unprecedented exodus.

The number of unaccompanied children that have arrived at the U.S. border so far this fiscal year is up 106 percent from the same period a year earlier — with the total expected to reach 90,000 before Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

To put that latter number in perspective, it is nearly five times larger than the number of Border Patrol agents now stationed along the entire southern border.

The Obama administration paints the crisis as a humanitarian issue sparked by poverty, violence and the tug of family bonds. Congressional Republicans point the finger at the Obama administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws.

Seemingly lost among the fray of political talking points over the child-migrant flight, however, is the stance of the U.S. military — which, unlike the president or Congress, is openly talking about the drug war as being a primary driver of the exodus.

Jose Ruiz, spokesperson for the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), said the transnational criminal organizations now entrenched in Central America have created elaborate networks “capable of moving drugs, money, arms and people” around the world.

“Sadly, crime syndicates that profit from human smuggling prey on victims willing to put themselves and their loved ones at great risk by entrusting ruthless criminals with their safety,” he added.

Gen. John Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, recently penned an opinion piece for the military press that lays out the nexus he sees between the flight of unaccompanied children and the pervasive narco-trafficking networks in Central America — particularly in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the major source nations for the child-migrant surge.

“… It has been the malignant effects of immense drug trafficking through these nonconsumer nations [in Central America] that is responsible for accelerating the breakdown in their national institutions of human rights, law enforcement, courts, and eventually their entire society as evidenced today by the flow of children north and out of the conflictive transit zone,” Kelly wrote. “… I believe that the mass migration of children we are all of a sudden struggling with is a leading indicator of the negative second- and third-order impacts on our national interests that are now reality due to the near unimpeded flow of drugs up the isthmus [Central America], as well as the unbelievable levels of drug profits (approximately $85 billion) available to transnational criminal organizations to literally buy police departments, court systems and even governments.”

SOUTHCOM, which oversees U.S. military operations in Latin America, says its resources are stretched to the limit, and consequently it is hamstrung in addressing adequately the many dire problems plaguing the region as a result of the growing influence of these criminal networks.

“The fiscal challenges our country is currently experiencing has not spared our command, and we too face funding and resource allocation reductions that have seriously impacted our ability to conduct important missions and achieve significant results,” Ruiz said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, Kelly said “severe budget constraints are significantly degrading our ability to defend the southern approaches to the United States.”

But there appears to be a more global agenda in play as well with respect to U.S. military operations in the Northern Triangle region of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala). Specifically it is SOUTHCOM’s growing concern over the rising influence of Russia and China in the region.

Some experts on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America contend, though, that whatever the agenda, the U.S. push to militarize the region in support of the drug war is actually accelerating the breakdown of civil society in the Northern Triangle — with the surge in unaccompanied children fleeing Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador being a prime example of the blowback.

CARSI

A major vehicle for extending U.S. influence in the Northern Triangle has been the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a counter-narcotics effort launched some six years ago in conjunction with the Mérida Initiative — a multi-year, multi-billion dollar U.S.-backed effort to combat drug trafficking in Mexico.

Ruiz said CARSI has provided “more than $640 million in assistance since 2008 to assist security forces, build law-enforcement and justice-sector capacity, and advance community policing, crime prevention and socioeconomic programs” to the seven nations of Central America.

“SOUTHCOM contributes to CARSI goals by providing security assistance through various programs that fund infrastructure, donate equipment and provide training,” Ruiz added.

More funding for CARSI translates into more U.S. operations and influence in the region. But it also is likely to feed the fire that is causing children to flee the Northern Triangle, according to Molly Molloy, a research librarian and a specialist on Latin America at New Mexico State University. Molloy founded and edits Frontera List, an online forum for news and debate around border issues.

“It is our militarization of the region, both as a base for our counter-insurgency forces and for our support of the corrupt local armies, that lie at the root of the social dysfunction in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” Molloy said. “[It’s worth noting that] the two Central American countries that seem not to be expelling their children are Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Costa Rica did away with its army in 1948 and Nicaragua fought a revolution to get rid of the U.S.-imposed Somoza dictatorship and its corrupt National Guard in 1979.”

Critics of U.S. policy in the region argue that those historical dynamics are clearly in play in Honduras, which is leading the pack in the recent surge of unaccompanied children exiting the Northern Triangle, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Nearly 17,000 kids from that nation have crossed the U.S. border through June of fiscal 2014.

“The police [in Honduras] are overwhelmingly corrupt and widely documented to kill people, including children with impunity,” said Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an expert on human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras. “Rather than clean up the corrupt police, [Honduran] President [Juan Orlando] Hernández's answer has been a dangerous and escalating militarization of the police, especially a new 5,000-strong Military Police that has already committed major human rights abuses with impunity…. Yet the U.S. continues to pour funds into the dangerous Honduran police and military, and act as if Hernández is an amiable and successful partner in the drug war.”

In late June, the White House announced that in response to the unaccompanied-children crisis, it is providing Honduras with $18.5 million under CARSI “to support community policing and law enforcement efforts to confront gangs and other sources of crime.” SOUTHCOM, via Joint Task Force Bravo, currently has a military force of about 600 airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines stationed at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, which also is home to the Honduran Air Force Academy.

Honduran President Hernández, echoing SOUTHCOM’s Kelly, sees a strong link between drug-related violence and the escalating flight of children from his nation. He recently called for more U.S. assistance and a ramp-up in funding for counter-narcotics operations in the Northern Triangle.

Frank said the United States, through existing counter-narcotics programs like CARSI, is already helping to prop up a regime in Honduras that is “countenancing the spectacular violence children are fleeing.”

Cold War Redux

Beyond combating the very real problem of narco-trafficking syndicates and the associated government corruption in the Northern Triangle and Latin America in general, SOUTHCOM also has a broader reason for assuring funding levels for CARSI and other military operations in the region remain robust.

Kelly, in his report to the House committee this past February, argued that budget cuts are eroding SOUTHCOM’s “security cooperation activities,” such as CARSI, in Latin America and opening the door for other world powers to fill the vacuum — principally Russia and China.

“Russian continues to build on its existing strategic partnerships in Latin America, pursuing an increased regional presence through arm sales, counterdrug cooperation and bilateral trade agreements,” Kelly stated. “… In contrast to the Russians, Chinese engagement is focused primarily on economics, but it uses all elements of national power to achieve its goals [in the region].”

That broader agenda, which also implicate U.S. business interest in the Latin America, arguably may create a higher tolerance among U.S. policymakers for supporting regimes in Central America that have less-than-stellar track records in protecting human rights and democracy.

“The 2009 military coup that deposed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, itself a great criminal act, opened the door to a free-for-all of criminality in Honduras,” Frank said. “Since then, organized crime, drug traffickers and gangs have flourished, worming their way ever-higher within the Honduran government, courts, attorney general's office, and congress. New President Juan Orlando Hernández himself has a stellar track record of subverting the rule of law — prominently supporting the coup, overthrowing part of the Supreme Court and stacking it with his loyalists, and helping illegally name a new attorney general to a five-year term.”

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Read the entire investigative report here @ Narco News: Click Here

NarcoNews: Second Informant Surfaces in ICE’s Mayan Jaguar Cocaine-Plane Op

US Attorney Dismisses Criminal Case Against Brazilian Informant

By Bill Conroy

The secrecy cloaking a corporate jet with a CIA-linked tail number that crash landed in Mexico in the fall of 2007 with a nearly four-ton load of cocaine onboard continues to unravel, one string at a time.

The Gulfstream II cocaine jet was part of a suspected US intelligence operation wrapped in the garbs of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) undercover operation called Mayan Jaguar, law enforcement sources suspect.

The newest revelations in the case pop up in court pleadings recently unearthed by Narco News and show the cocaine jet that ditched in Mexico’s Yucatan in September 2007 was part of a much larger web of cocaine planes sold to drug-traffickers with the assistance of at least two informants who continue to work for or own aviation brokerage companies.

The ICE undercover operation played out in the first decade of the 2000s (roughly 2004 until sometime in 2008) and involved the use of US government front companies to sell aircraft to suspected Latin American drug-trafficking organizations.

Brazilian national Joao Malago has already been identified as one of the key ICE informants for Mayan Jaguar. He oversaw several front companies as part of the operation, including Florida-based Donna Blue Aircraft, which was used to broker the sale of the CIA-connected Gulfstream II cocaine jet, tail No. N987SA, to two individuals — one of who, a pilot named Greg Smith, has past connections to US government operations, prior Narco News reports revealed. Shortly after Smith and his partner inked a bill of sale and took over ownership of the Gulfstream II, it crashed in Mexico with a payload of Colombian cocaine onboard.

But court pleadings unearthed recently by Narco News show that Malago was not alone in his informant role with Mayan Jaguar. Larry Peters, owner of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Skyway Aircraft Inc., also was “a confidential informant for ICE and operation Mayan Jaguar for a time period that coincides with Mr. Malago’s cooperation as a confidential informant,” the recently surfaced court pleadings state.

“In fact, Mr. Peters and Mr. Malago were brought in by ICE agents at approximately the same time and signed up as sources at approximately the same time,” the court records reveal. “The government has released discovery of confidential source documentation from ICE pertaining to both Mr. Malago’s and Mr. Peters’ official status as confidential sources.…”

Dismissed and More   

Peters was never charged with a crime in relation to his role with Mayan Jaguar or his aircraft brokerage business. Malago, though, somehow got on the wrong side of US law enforcers and was hit with narco-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy charges in an indictment filed in federal court in Florida in January 2012.

That criminal prosecution was dismissed suddenly this past March, about a month after Narco News’ published an expose on Mayan Jaguar that alleged it served as a global cocaine-plane pipeline that was marked by CIA fingerprints.

The dismissal of Malago’s case is seemingly in line with a prediction made by one DEA source, who told Narco News earlier this year that if a court case gets too close to exposing a CIA-enabled covert operation, then it will be shut down behind the scenes using the hammer of national security.

Malago is not alone in helping to broker the sale of a plane later linked to the CIA. Larry Peters’ Skyway Aircraft also is connected to a plane transaction that has the Agency’s number all over it.

Peters’ Skyway Aircraft sold a Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft to a Venezuelan buyer in October 2004, about a month before it was found in a cotton field suspected of hauling a payload of some 1,100 kilos of cocaine. The Beech 200 was discovered in Nicaragua with a false tail number (N168D).

That tail number was registered at the time to Devon Holding and Leasing Inc., a CIA shell company, and also was being used by a separate CIA aircraft as well, press reports and an investigation conducted by the European Parliament into the CIA’s terrorist rendition program show.

Narco News has reported previously as part of a multi-story series that ICE’s Mayan Jaguar — known pejoratively within some law enforcer circles as “Mayan Express,” because it allegedly allowed huge volumes of cocaine into the US market —appeared to use ICE as a cover for a US intelligence agency mission. The real goal of the operation, the sources suspect, was not to interdict illegal narcotics, but rather to use the sale of the cocaine planes — which, according to court records, were equipped with location-monitoring equipment — to monitor, penetrate and ultimately manipulate narco-trafficking mafia organizations and their government allies

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Read the entire investigative report here @ Narco News: Click Here

Narco News Reports: Official US Cover-Up Still Obscures Motive for Juarez Consulate Murders

Diplomatic Security Agent’s Allegations Support Narco News Report That Victims Were Targeted for Assassination

By Bill Conroy

Barrio Azteca gang leader Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, also known as “Guero,” among other aliases, was sentenced to life in prison late last month after being convicted of orchestrating the murders of US Consulate worker Lesley A. Enriquez; her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs; and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, whose wife also worked at the consulate in Juarez.

All three were brutally gunned down on March 13, 2010, while attempting to elude assassins in their vehicles. Enriquez, who was pregnant, and Redelfs, both US citizens, nearly made it to the US border crossing prior to being cut down. Their baby was in the back seat of the car at the time and allowed to live, law enforcement sources tell Narco News, because the infant was too young to ID the killers.

To date, no convincing motive has been offered by US officials for the murders. In fact, they have ruled out the motive advanced by a Barrio Azteca hitman turned government witness. Mexican authorities arrested Jesus Ernesto Chavez in late June of 2010, shortly after the murders, and accused him of what Gallegos was ultimately convicted of doing, and that is ordering the attack that resulted in the death of Enriquez and her husband.

Chavez initially claimed that the murders were ordered because the Barrio Aztecas — which have earned a rep for violence on both sides of the border — believed Enriquez was involved in a visa-fraud scheme that was benefiting a rival gang. US officials say the claim is without merit.

But as with many mysteries in the drug war, this one appears to have a couple of twists. Chief among them are revelations that appeared in a recent Newsweek story focused on a Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) agent named David Farrington, who spent several years pursuing a lead in the Enriquez case that supports revelations surfaced in Narco News' story on the consulate murders that was published on May 1, 2010 — about a month and a half after US citizens Enriquez and her husband were slain in the streets of Juarez.

In that story, Narco News sources claimed that Enriquez was targeted for assassination by narco-traffickers, a claim that Farrington also was investigating based on independent sourcing. In both cases, those leads were never adequately followed up on due to interference or lack of action by the official bureaucracy.

Notifying Congress

Cary Schulman, a Dallas attorney with the law firm of Schulman Mathias PLLC, recently sent off a letter to Congressional leaders that includes hundreds of pages of exhibits, most of them emails involving officials with DS, which is part of the Department of State. In that letter, which sources provided to Narco News and can be read HERE, Schulman, who has represented Farrington in the past, alleges that DS officials have engaged in a major cover-up in the consulate murder case — at the expense of Farrington’s career.

The central allegation made by Schulman is that DS officials took extreme measures to silence Farrington and to undermine his efforts to investigate whether Greg Houston, the DS Regional Security Officer for the US Consulate in Juarez at the time of the murders, had advanced knowledge that Enriquez was being targeted by narco-traffickers, but failed to warn her.

“… Was the head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security involved in a cover-up to avoid embarrassment [of not forewarning Enriquez], or worse?” Schulman asks. “The problem is no one was allowed to investigate the matter, so we simply do not know.”

Narco News was unable to located Houston for comment, but he told Newsweek contributing editor Jeff Stein that the allegations are “totally absurd.” Several calls made by Narco News to DS spokesman Fred Lash were not returned.

Farrington told Narco News recently that even if Houston was made aware of a threat against Enriquez, “it may not have been up to him to inform her [Enriquez] about the warning.”

“Greg Houston reported to someone in Juarez,” Farrington adds. “He wasn’t the boss.”

DS email correspondence contained in the exhibits Schulman sent to Congress indicates that Houston may have been made aware of the threat against Enriquez by Department of Justice officials.

In any event, Farrington stresses that Enriquez, her husband, as well as the other victim, Mexican citizen Salcido Ceniceros, “were all very good people.” His assessment coincides with what law enforcement sources told Narco News in 2010, that Enriquez was marked for murder because she chose not to comply with a corrupt request.

The Informant

Enriquez worked as an assistant in the American Citizens Services section of the US Consulate in Juarez, and as a result would not have been directly involved in approving visas. Her husband was a detention officer with the El Paso County Sherriff’s office. Both were pursued and killed after leaving a private birthday party in Juarez in what Narco News reported at the time was an assassination plot targeting Enriquez.

“An individual approached [Enriquez at least twice in consulate-related settings prior to her murder] and tried to get her to do something with a document without the proper paperwork,” one law enforcer claims. “Her murder was ordered because she refused to go along with it.”

Law enforcement sources who spoke with Narco News in 2010 also indicated the source of the details on the Enriquez assassination plot was a confidential informant who knew some of the killers who had participated in the murder of Enriquez and her husband — and at the time that informant said he was even able to provide names and addresses to US authorities. In fact, the informant identified one of the killers by the nickname “El Guero,” which Narco News reported in May 2010 — nearly a half year prior to the arrest of Barrio Azteca leader Gallegos, who happens to also go by the nickname “Guero.”

The informant told law enforcers that Enriquez was asked by the individual that approached her to falsify birth-certificate paperwork for a family member of a powerful leader of the Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization.

Those same law enforcers contend the leads from the informant were passed up the chain of command during the investigation into the consulate murders but never acted on by investigators.

And how do they know?

“No one ever spoke to the informant,” one law enforcer claims.

Farrington makes similar allegations in a series of emails and memos attached to the April 7, 2014, letter Schulman sent to Congress. In one email chain, involving Farrington and Brian Skaret, one of the Department of Justice attorneys who prosecuted Gallegos, Farrington spells out clearly his concerns about DS supervisor Houston.

“I strongly believe that RSO Greg Houston identified [Enriquez] as a possible cartel target by name before she and the other victims were murdered,” Farrington wrote in an Aug. 2, 2012, email to Skaret. “It is my understanding that he asked another member of the RSO staff a question to the effect of ‘Who are the US Citizen Locally Employed Staff?’ The RSO staff told me that the RSO staff member identified two … by name and [Enriquez] was one of them. …

“I don’t know for certain if [Enriquez] was warned, but I have reason to believe no one warned her.” [Enriquez’ name is redacted in the email provided to Congress, but the context makes it clear the person being referred to is her, since she was the only female murder victim.]

The Email Trail

Farrington is a 10-year veteran of the Bureau of Diplomatic Service, having served in Houston and Baghdad prior to being assigned to Juarez as Assistant Regional Security Officer from November 2008 to July 2010. He also is in the Army Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan from October 2010 until August 2011, and subsequently returned to duty at the DS Houston Field Office — where he remains an active agent.

Farrington was one of the first US agents “on the ground in Ciudad Juarez to investigate the murders” of the consulate workers in March 2010 and “escorted two of the victims’ [Enriquez and Redelfs’] baby home to El Paso” in the wake of the tragedy, documents submitted to Congress state. Although he left Juarez in July 2010, several months after the consulate murders, he remained part of the “assigned personnel” on the murder case, according to the DS Investigation Management System, until at least Sept. 5, 2012, the documents indicate.

But Farrington’s pursuit of answers to the questions of who knew what and when with respect to Enriquez being an alleged “cartel target,” seemingly did not play well within the DS bureaucracy…

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Read the entire investigative report here @ Narco News:Click Here

Zambada Niebla’s Plea Deal, Chapo Guzman’s Capture May Be Key to an Unfolding Mexican Purge

NarcoNews: History & Court Pleadings Help to Connect the Dots Mainstream Media Is Missing

Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of a powerful co-founder of Mexico’s Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization, has agreed to tell the US government everything he knows about his alleged partners in crime, their operations and enablers, US authorities announced earlier this week.

The details of his cooperation are spelled out in a recent plea deal signed by Zambada Niebla, himself considered a key figure in the Sinaloa organization run by his father Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and the recently capture Joaquin Guzman Loera (aka Chapo Guzman).

The plea agreement, which can be read in its entirety at this link, rewards Zambada Niebla for his cooperation by reducing a potential life prison sentence to as little as 10 years (including time served he could be out in roughly five years) and by offering protection for his family members. However, the US government will only honor the deal if it deems Zambada Niebla is truthful and helpful in providing evidence that advances investigations and cases against the Sinaloa organization and its leadership.

The mainstream media has jumped all over this latest development in the Zambada Niebla criminal case — litigation that Narco News explored in-depth and exclusively as part of a 10-story package published some three years ago, long before US media credited a Mexican publication with breaking the same story this past January.

But the commercial media coverage of the Zambada Niebla plea pact, influenced by a need to generate online page clicks and revenue, with few exceptions, excludes critical context, and frankly, common-sense analysis.

So, in an effort to correct the distortions served up by the commercial media in their coverage of the case, Narco News will make an attempt here to put a few critical elements in focus.

Chapo’s Fall

The first of these elements is the need to consider the allegations raised by Zambada Niebla (and proven as factual in the court pleadings) concerning the relationship between the US government and the Sinaloa organization leadership — in particular El Mayo and Chapo Guzman — who was captured in late February without a shot being fired as part of an “arranged” arrest, according to a former drug agent who still has deep contacts in Mexico.

“Chapo [Guzman] was protected by Mexican federal agents and military, by the Mexican government,” claims retired US special agent Hector Berrellez, who previously served as DEA’s chief investigator in Mexico and played a lead role in tracking down slain DEA agent Kiki Camarena’s murderers. “He was making [Mexican President Enrique] Peña Nieto look bad, and so the government decided to withdraw his security detail. Chapo was told he could either surrender, or he would be killed.”

In terms of context, it is important to point out that among the admissions Zambada Niebla made as part of his plea deal is that he “participated … in the paying of bribes to Mexican law enforcement to promote the Sinaloa narcotics trafficking business.”

“On multiple occasions,” the plea pleadings state, “(Zambada Niebla) arranged for the payment of bribes to local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in the Mexican government, for the purpose of facilitating the Sinaloa Cartel’s narcotics trafficking business.”

So, it doesn’t take much more than common sense to conclude that Zambada Niebla provided the names of all those officials to US prosecutors as part of his cooperation, thereby exposing the entire Sinaloa payola infrastructure, including those within the Mexican government being paid off to provide protection to Chapo Guzman. And in the real world, the way it works, is that once those people are exposed to the light of day, they are compromised and can no longer conduct business as usual. They become pawns of higher powers, who now have leverage over them.

Berrellez’ contention, then, that Chapo Guzman’s security detail was “withdrawn,” by the Mexican government, now led by PRI Party leader President Enrique Peña Nieto, doesn’t sound so absurd in the context of this network of Sinaloa government operatives being exposed.  

If the corrupt Mexican officials outed by Zambada Niebla worked for Peña Nieto’s administration, or were part of opposition (or some combination of both, as is more likely) it is quite plausible that the US government could use that information to exert enough backroom political pressure in Mexico to shut down Chapo Guzman’s protection network. That would leave the Sinaloa’s chief capo with few options other than to go on the run, hiding out like a rat in a hole, or to cut the best deal he could with Peña Nieto’s regime and surrender — hoping for a change in the political tide down the road.

For those who might find such a fate improbable for a powerful crime boss like Chapo Guzman, take note that a similar scenario previously played out in the 1990s with another powerful mob capo, Whitey Bulger.

Bulger, who headed Boston’s Winter Hill Gang while also working as an FBI informant, had allegedly dirtied up more than a dozen FBI agents and even more local police officers at the height of his reign as a crime boss.

Bulger disappeared in 1995, eluding service of a pending arrest warrant that stemmed from an investigation by a DEA task force — which purposely excluded the FBI because the agency’s corrupt involvement with Bulger had come to light by that time.

However, even the exclusion of the FBI wasn’t enough, since Bulger was was still tipped off by a crooked FBI agent that he was about to be arrested. Bulger chose to flee, but was finally captured in 2011, after being on the lam for some 16 years — a fate Chapo Guzman appears to have avoided.

Peeling Back the Onion

But there is yet another layer to the intrigue to Zambada Niebla’s story that the US commercial media has ignored, and that revolves around Zambada Niebla's allegations, made in court pleadings, concerning a Mexican attorney named Humberto Loya Castro —who is described in US legal documents as “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo)."

Loya Castro’s name surfaces in legal pleadings filed in US federal court in Chicago by Zambada Niebla — whose journey through the wasteland of US justice began when he was arrested by Mexican soldiers in Mexico City in March 2009 immediately after meeting with DEA agents at a hotel. He was later extradited, in February 2010, to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.

Zambada Niebla claims in hislegal pleadings that “sometime prior to 2004 [actually beginning in 1998], and continuing through the time period covered in the [current] indictment [against him], the United States government entered into an agreement with Loya [Castro] and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, including [El] Mayo and Chapo [Guzman].”

“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya [Castro], was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government,” Zambada Niebla alleges in his court pleadings. “In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya [Castro], not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them.”

The stunning allegations, published first by Narco News, prompted the US government to play the national-security card in Zambada Niebla’s case. US government prosecutors succeeded in getting the judge in the case to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).

CIPA, enacted some 30 years ago, is designed to keep a lid on the public disclosure in criminal cases of classified materials, such as those associated with CIA or other US covert operations. The rule requires that notice be given to the judge in advance of any move to introduce classified evidence in a case so that the judge can determine if it is admissible, or if another suitable substitution can be arranged that preserves the defendant's right to a fair trial.

US government pleadings filed in Zambada Niebla’s case confirm that Loya Castro was a DEA cooperating source for some 10 years while also working for the Sinaloa organization. It is clear from the US government’s court filings that Loya Castro’s dealing with the US government also were known to the leadership of the Sinaloa organization, including Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada, given that Loya Castro actually met with Zambada Niebla’s attorneys in Mexico City, with the knowledge of his father, Ismael, sometime in 2010.

The purpose of that meeting, in part, was to discuss the nature of Loya Castro’s cooperation with the US government as part of an effort to develop a legal strategy for Zambada Niebla’s US criminal case.

Narco News’ law enforcement sources contend that given his importance as a foreign intelligence source, Loya Castro likely was also employed in a dual role as a CIA asset.

As a result of Zambada Niebla’s plea deal — signed in April 2013 but only made public earlier this week — any chance of the full extent of the US government’s complicity with the Sinaloa organization’s leadership ever becoming public via a trial is now deep sixed.

And for those who doubt that there is any chance that individuals like Loya Castro, or even Chapo Guzman, might have been employed as CIA assets, while at the same time getting favorable treatment from the DEA for being informants, then a little history lesson is in order, because that is precisely the role Manuel Noriega, former military leader of Panama, played for the CIA and DEA in the 1980s, prior to falling from grace and being arrested in the wake of the US military invasion of Panama in 1989.

The Noriega Connection

In 1987, then-DEA administrator Jack Lawn penned a letter to Noriega that stated, in part: “The DEA has long welcomed our close association and we stand ready to proceed jointly against international drug traffickers whenever the opportunity arises.” In early 1988, after Noriega’s indictment in the US, Congress and Justice Department officials accused DEA of giving the Panamanian dictator a free pass on his narco-trafficking activities while using him to help make cases against other narco-traffickers, charges reported in the New York Times at the time.

A July 1999 appeals-court ruling in the Noriega criminal case also reveals that the CIA had an intimate relationship with the Panamanian dictator. However, the appeals-court ruling let stand the trial court’s decision to conceal the nature of that relationship. CIPA also was invoked in Noriega’s trial by the way — seemingly a national-security cloak that has long been used successfully to conceal reality from the American people, with little regard to accountability on the part of those invoking it…

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To read further on this and more background visit Narco News Here.

Narco-Villain “El Chapo’s” Arrest Packaged for Media Consumption

Former DEA Supervisor Contends Guzman’s Capture Was an “Arranged” Event

By NarcoNews’ Bill Conroy

The recent capture of the notorious Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, longtime leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization, was not what it appeared to be, according to a former DEA supervisory agent who still has a deep network of contacts in Mexico.

Guzman’s takedown, despite the media script portraying it as a daring predawn raid, was, in fact, an “arranged thing,” claims the retired DEA agent, Hector Berrellez, who led the investigation into the 1985 torture and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena. That cross-border investigation ran for several years and eventually led to the capture and conviction in Mexico of Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo — considered the leaders of Mexico’s then-dominate drug organization, The Guadalajara Cartel.

“Chapo [Guzman] was protected by Mexican federal agents and military, by the Mexican government,” Berrellez told Narco News. “He was making [Mexican President Enrique] Peña Nieto look bad, and so the government decided to withdraw his security detail. Chapo was told he could either surrender, or he would be killed.”

Berrellez, who retired from the DEA in 1996, stresses that he is not speaking on behalf of the US government, but rather as an individual who has decades of law enforcement experience, including serving as DEA’s lead investigator in Mexico.

“This information comes from my sources, that I am still in contact with,” Berrellez adds. “I developed a large informant network in Mexico, including sources in the Mexican Attorney General’s office, Mexican generals and others. These people are still in contact with me.”

Berrellez says his version of what happened is further evidenced by the fact that Guzman was apprehended early Saturday morning, Feb. 22, in an unremarkable condominium tower in the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico, without a shot being fired and no security detail present to offer a fight.

“This guy [Guzman] was bigger than Pablo Escobar [the infamous Colombian narco-trafficker whom law enforcers killed in 1993 in a rooftop shootout in Medellin],” Berrellez says. “He [Guzman] ran around with a several-hundred man security detail that included Mexican military and federal agents, yet, in the end, he is arrested like a rat in a hole. My sources are telling me it was an arranged thing.”

Finding Chapo

As remarkable as Berrellez claims may sound to some, there is evidence indicating that law enforcement authorities have known for years where to find Guzman, who has led the Sinaloa organization since at least 2001, when he "escaped" from prison. Still, law enforcers mysteriously failed to capture him — until last week.

Among the reasons for Guzman’s long run from the law, several law enforcers and intelligence sources told Narco News, was not due to the fact that he could not be found, but rather because Guzman’s security team was formidable and any move against him would have led to a bloodbath — not an attractive political or law-enforcement option.

An email penned by the head of the Texas-based private intelligence firm Strafor, obtained and made public in 2012 by WikiLeaks, echoes that analysis:

Chapo commands the support of a large network of informers and has security circles of up to 300 men that make launching capture operations difficult.

Once the security-detail obstacle was removed, Guzman became a sitting duck. One law enforcer with experience working in Latin America put it this way:

It seems Chapo put his life in the hands of the people he paid off [the Mexican government, if Berrellez is right, and the military and federal cops attached to his security detail]. But whenever the government wants to get you, they can get you. Look at Escobar, Fonseca, Gallardo, Quintero. They were all considered untouchable. Then, one day, it was in the interest of the government to get them.

Retired DEA agent Phil Jordan, who once led DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center, told Narco News that he was surprised that Guzman was captured under a PRI government. (President Peña Nieto is part of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI in its Spanish initials).

“Chapo contributed a lot of money to the PRI,” Jordan says. “The PRI historically has been an ally of the cartels, and Chapo Guzman has contributed millions to their campaigns. All of that is documented [in intelligence reports] I have seen.”

After Jordan made similar comments to the Spanish-language TV station Univision recently, the DEA issued the following statement to the media…

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Read the news article here @ NarcoNews: Click Here

Mexico’s Bin Laden: The Capture of Chapo Guzman Provides Illusory Victory in the Narcowar

Comparisons between Chapo Guzmán and Osama Bin Laden Are Valid, But For Horrible Reasons

By Danny Benavides

The End of an Era has been declared, loudly proclaimed in headlines throughout the world. Chicago’s “Most Wanted,” the “No. 1 drug kingpin” finally (re)captured in his own backyard. Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (alias “El Chapo”), the world’s most notorious druglord, was brought down without a single bullet fired.

The entire ordeal unfolded as if the drama was pulled straight from a Hollywood script. Indeed, this novella could have been aptly titled “Got Shorty.” Yet, few of us with an eye on the U.S.-Mexico Narcowar expected “The Mexican Osama bin Laden” to go down so quietly. Chapo had a reputation for being ruthless and savvy, and vowed never to be taken alive (or so the story goes). A remarkably choreographed, months-long joint operation involving multiple agencies of the United States and Mexico could be credited for capturing the feared and revered Sinaloa Cartel capo alive.

Once the dust settles, however, is the elimination of symbolic figureheads of Mexico’s narcoinsurgency the solution to “Saving Mexico?” Once the curtains are drawn closed on this narco-terror theater, what substantive progress can be claimed in the Mexican Drug War? Has Peña Nieto vanquished “Mexico’s bin Laden?”

The Dominoes Begin to Fall

The path to Chapo was laid one stone at a time, beginning in earnest in January of 2013. That month, immediate family, in-laws, extended relatives, and associates of Chapo Guzmán were added to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list prohibiting them from conducting business with American banks and companies. In the months following, Mexican authorities apprehended both Chapo’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, and as a result, a network of targets belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel began to materialize.

In November of 2013, U.S. Marshalls arrested Serafín Zambada Ortiz — the 23-year old son of Chapo’s right-hand lieutenant Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García — at a pedestrian border crossing in Nogales, Arizona as he traveled with his wife.

The next month, rival cartel members of the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) and Los Zetas ambushed and gunned down Jesús Gregorio Villanueva Rodríguez (alias “El R5″) — a Sinaloa Cartel leader of its “Gente Nueva” paramilitary wing and plaza boss controlling territory in the Mexican state of Sonora. Members of the rival groups were said to have been tipped off about a forthcoming ambush by “Gente Nueva” and retaliated.

The following week, the Mexican military killed another chief of a team of sicarios (hitmen) operating under the order of Mayo Zambada. Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (alias “El Macho Prieto”) was cut down by gunfire from an attack helicopter during pursuit of a narco-convoy led by Inzunza.

At the end of December, Interpol arrested yet another lieutenant of the Sinaloa Cartel — the flamboyant, social media narco-celebrity leader of the sicarios known as “Los Ántrax.” José Rodrigo Aréchiga Gamboa (alias “El Chino Ántrax”) was taken into custody while transiting through the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

The big break came earlier this month. In separate operations, Mexican Federal Police arrested a dozen operatives of the Sinaloa Cartel, including a plaza boss for Aguascalientes (near Mexico City) named Daniel Fernández Domínguez (alias “El Pelacas”), another sicario leader named Joel Enrique Romero Sandoval (alias “El 19″), Mayo’s security chief and Culiacán plaza boss Jesus Peña Gonzalez (alias “El 20″), Apolonio Romero Sandoval (alias “El 30″), Cristo Omar Romero Sandoval (alias “El Cristo”), Omar Guillermo Cuen Lugo (alias “El Compa Omar”), Mario Miguel Pérez Urrea (alias “El Pitaya”), Jesús Andrés Corrales Aztorga (alias “El Bimbo”), and others.

Targeting Chapo

Mexican authorities used information obtained from the dozens of cell phones seized from the Sinaloa Cartel members to discover the number to Chapo Guzmán’s satellite phone which he switched on only while communicating with his inner circle.  Mexican intelligence learned that Chapo and Mayo were making plans to attend a family gathering in the Sinaloan capital of Culiacán, so they suspected it was only a matter of time before Chapo reached out to his confidants.

Amid this multi-agency operation, even a U.S. drone was deployed to gather Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) with the full authorization of Mexico’s military. It flew missions during the end of January and beginning of February, but no information has surfaced to indicate that this drone was sent to kill.

Last week, Mexican forces conducted raids of every Chapo-owned property they knew of, and nearly caught Guzmán at the home of his ex-wife. Its steel-reinforced doors provided Chapo the extra couple of minutes he needed to evade authorities by using a trapdoored bathtub that opened into a tunnel system dug beneath the house which connected to other Chapo hideouts in the area.

With several Mexican and American agencies in hot pursuit, Chapo can be said to have had a “lapse of operational security” and made a call with the satellite phone that had previously been wiretapped — thus, providing triangulated geolocation information to the Mexican authorities.

Chapo’s Abbottabad Moment

An extensive Mexico-U.S. joint operation involving Mexico’s SEDENA (Defense Department), SEMAR (Marines), and CISEN (Intelligence) paired with a supporting cast of U.S. DEA, ICE, DHS, and U.S. Marshals was underway and making significant gains. Although the involvement of other agencies has not yet been confirmed, it would not come as a surprise to discover that the NSA and/or CIA may have had a hand in the operation as well. If the DEA’s Special Operations Division pushed beyond the boundaries of lawful surveillance and engaged in some type of “parallel construction” during the hunt for Chapo, then perhaps this entire narrative is moot.

Just before dawn, at around 6:40 in the morning on Saturday, February 22, 2014, Mexican Marina (Marines) swarmed the Miramar Inn, a modest hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a touristy resort district of Mazatlán, Sinaloa. The Mexican Marina, backed up by two helicopters, rammed open the door to room 401, catching Chapo Guzmán shirtless, red-eyed, and off-guard. Reports following the breaking news claimed that Chapo had reached for an AK-47 kept by the bedside, but had rifles of the Marina in his face before he could get his finger on the trigger. He was apprehended — 13 years after his now-legendary escape from the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco state (his second prison break in fact) — without a single shot fired. Certainly not the hail-of-bullets glory The Chapo Mythology would have us expect.

Guzmán was arrested along with a bodyguard named Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramirez, his wife Emma Coronel Aispuro, and another female companion. According to the official statement from the Mexican government, the operation lasted less than 8 minutes. By the time people nearby realized what was happening, Chapo was already being lifted to Mexico City.  Before he had even landed, the facade of Miramar Inn had become a tourist attraction itself.

Narco-Terror Theater and Public Relations

In Mexico, politicians are often distrusted even more than narcos. Government and police corruption is so common, it’s almost expected. Many observers of the Mexican Drug War have long suspected that Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel had made some sort of secret pact with officials in critical positions within Mexico’s government, Federal Police, and local police. Former El Paso DEA Intelligence Division chief Phil Jordan recently claimed during an interview on Univisión that Chapo himself donated significant sums to the presidential campaign of Enrique Peña Nieto. Jordan wondered aloud about the impetus for Chapo’s capture and whether the kingpin negotiated the terms of his arrest. Investigative journalist Anabel Hernández, who has made the chronicling of Mexico’s narcotraffickers the focus of her work, has also expressed many questions about the capture of Chapo against the backdrop of documents released recently supporting theories of an alleged DEA-Sinaloa Cartel agreement.

Despite being in the crosshairs of authorities on both sides of the border, pop-folklore and narco-corridos sing praises to Chapo Guzmán as a Robin Hood of Sinaloa — the man who kept the peace and provided protection to the community from those other cartels. With good reason, some Mexican citizens remain skeptical of the actual impact Chapo’s capture will bring. Many fear that the splintering factions of various cartels can ignite more violence as turf wars erupt. Even a U.S. Marshal remarked that Chapo’s arrest hardly spells the end for the cartel he commanded. Chapo’s replacements were lined up well in advance to provide continuity to the cartel’s operations. Additionally, there are also rivals who will vie for influence to fill the power vacuum and seek strategic and tactical advantage amid the ensuing chaos.

Yesterday, in fact, a narcomanta (publicly displayed banner with messages from cartel groups) was reported just outside of Mexico City. Signed by a rival from the Gulf Cartel, the message warns that the CDG is coming to “clean the plaza.” Sporadic, if limited, cartel turf wars and infighting are the typical results from the takedown of a kingpin.

Furthermore, Mexico has been down this road before many times. Chapo Guzmán is merely the latest cartel capo in a long series that have been captured or killed. In July of last year, Mexican marines arrested Zetas leader Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales (alias “Z-40″) less than a year after taking command, following the death of top capo Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (alias “El Lazca”). A month before Lazca’s demise, Mexican Marines also caught Gulf Cartel leader Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez (alias “El Coss”). Mexico’s military and police forces have been arresting and killing narcos for generations, yet the trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, torture, murder, and violations continue with appalling frequency.

Osama and “El Chapo”

Many comparisons have been drawn between Chapo Guzmán and Osama Bin Laden in the press issued in the days following Chapo’s arrest. They were both criminals who ruled by terror, seemingly eluding the world’s most sophisticated intelligence agencies and robust surveillance programs for years. They were responsible for countless deaths, limitless suffering, but still managed to gather followers and footsoldiers to expand their operational capabilities. They made it to the top of various “most wanted” lists, commanded large bounties, reaped enormous wealth through their criminal empires, and lived lives wrapped in mystery and mythology. Their exploits are beclouded by conspiracy, and rumors surround the special relationship that each man is said to have maintained with corrupted government officials and insiders. Additionally — and quite coincidentally — they both were tracked by intelligence agencies via their use of satellite phones that were being wiretapped. These comparisons, while mostly rather superficial, are also missing the point.

After all, if any narco invited comparisons to Osama bin Laden, it would have to be Nazario Moreno González (alias “El Más Loco” or “The Craziest One”). Moreno González led the notorious cartel La Familia Michoacana (LFM) after the capture of the group’s founder Carlos Rosales Mendoza. Under his command, LFM members embraced a twisted form of evangelical Christianity and claimed to operate under a pious ethical code while also trafficking crystal meth and decapitating and dismembering rivals.

Tales of Moreno González’s philanthropy in the state of Michoacán persist, and some still believe he may have survived an intense shootout with Mexican Federal Police in 2010 and is secretly leading LFM’s offshoot cartel Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar).  In present day Michoacán, the Templarios have been dealt major blows by armed vigilante groups known as autodefensas (self-defense squads) that have emerged in southwest Mexico in response to the cartel’s violent, extortionist exploitation.  The legacy of “El Más Loco” more closely resembles Bin Laden’s violent, ruthless zealotry than does the business acumen exhibited by Chapo Guzmán.

Chapo and Bin Laden led violent campaigns that did not and do not depend on top-down command-and-control. Taking either one of them out of the picture only creates fissures within the existing organized crime group, but the operational capability persists even after a figurehead like Chapo or Bin Laden is captured or killed. Indeed, they may inspire their operatives, but their roles are largely symbolic. That symbolic quality is more valuable politically than is any substantive drug law overhaul or immigration reform — two critical issues at the heart of the narcowar.

Take note, for instance, the manner in which Chapo Guzmán was led out before the cameras after his arrest: a Mexican Marine seen applying a Vulcan nerve grip on the back of his neck, head down and cuffed (see video here). Then contrast that with the way captured Zetas leader Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales (alias “Z-40″) performed his perp walk: unrestrained, strutting at a cool pace alongside Mexican Marines (see video here).

When Z-40 was arrested, Mexican officials stated that the decision to refrain from hand-cuffing him was to show a more humane treatment of captured criminals. If that is true, then certainly the only reason Chapo was placed on display in that manner was to serve as an example of the potency of Peña Nieto’s administration. In the words of Michael Vigil, a former Senior Executive with the DEA, Chapo is “a human trophy… the crown jewel of the new presidential administration,” offered up to insist that Mexico is not yet a failed state.

After last month’s much-ridiculed Time magazine cover story about Peña Nieto, the timing of Chapo’s takedown was not only convenient, it was desperately needed.  The only people convinced of the success of Peña Nieto’s administration either don’t live in Mexico or don’t read news about Mexico. The vigilante uprising in Michoacán, for example, presents an enormous challenge to the Mexican government. U.S.-Mexico intelligence sharing, training, special forces deployments, and drone surveillance has increased in recent years to address Mexico’s security crisis (the captures of Zetas leader Z-40 and the Sinaloa Cartel’s Chapo demonstrate the extent of that increase). No doubt President Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto had much more to discuss than economic cooperation and monarch butterflies during last week’s “Three Amigos Summit” in Mexico.

There’s the rub. While people around the world rejoice at the takedown of Chapo Guzmán, some wonder whether this spectacle was the result of political calculation primarily. Now, of course, the United States and Mexico will fight a legal battle for custody of Public Enemy No. 1, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera. Mexican authorities argue that Chapo has yet to serve the remainder of his sentence, and are holding him in a cell at Altiplano maximum security prison outside of Mexico City (his former prison, before being transferred to Puente Grande and escaping). U.S. officials will expend all available resources to extradite Chapo to face the American justice system, whether in Chicago, Texas, New York, or another location where he’s been indicted.

Mexico has historically kept cartel capos imprisoned in-country, but the release of Guadalajara Cartel godfather Rafael Caro Quintero from a Jalisco state prison — due to a technicality — in August of last year has raised ire, doubts and mistrust between the governments of the U.S. and Mexico. Chapo Guzmán is regarded as a major prize, and it appears Peña Nieto wants to keep this trophy for himself. The capture of Chapo is excellent PR and a triumph for Mexico’s government, but without reexamination of the root causes that allow cartels to flourish, it is an omen for its citizens caught in the crossfire of the narcowar.

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*This article was originally published here @ Traces of Reality.

A Dark Narco-Alliance Reborn: The DEA-Sinaloa Connection

US Involvement Affirms Economic Dependence on Drug Trade and "War"

In 1996, investigative reporter Gary Webb shocked readers of the San Jose Mercury News with a series of articles he titled, “Dark Alliance.” In it, he chronicled the relationship between the CIA, Nicaraguan Contras, and crack cocaine dealers in Los Angeles during the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s.

As would be expected with a story of this magnitude, the Dark Alliance series was received with a great deal of skepticism and resentment, as corporate media staples like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post swooped in to abscond the CIA’s sins.

With the passage of time, however, Webb’s claims — based on documented evidence and testimony from credible sources — have stood up to scrutiny. In many ways his courageous reporting and reputation as a journalist have been posthumously vindicated.

Still, almost 20 years after the series was published, the drug war rages on. Further, new evidence continues to surface, affirming an ongoing role for sections of the US government in the management of the drug trade through covert action.

Even the title of this column may not be entirely accurate in a technical sense. This alliance between narcotrafficking cartels and agencies like the CIA or DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) may not have been “reborn” so much as it has matured, or evolved.

The latest revelations in this enduring saga originate from statements given to the US District Court in Chicago relating to the case of Jesus Vincente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa Cartel capo “El Mayo.” Documents obtained by Mexican news outlet El Universal prove a reciprocal relationship between the DEA and the Sinaloa Cartel, further strengthening claims made by Zambada, and others, of an explicit agreement in place to consolidate the drug trade in Mexico in the hands of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the Cartel de Sinaloa (CDS).

Skeptics have been quick to point out that while the statements provided by DEA agent Manuel Castañon and former Department of Justice prosecutor Patrick Hearn do establish Zambaba-Niebla’s role as a cooperative “informant,” they do not prove the broader conspiratorial designs of CDS as a government-sponsored cartel.

While accurate, it cannot be denied that the statements entered into the public record by the DEA in this case not only corroborate Zambada-Niebla’s “I am protected by the US government” defense, they add credence to a long-standing understanding of drug war reality in Mexico, and do absolutely nothing to weaken it.

As noted previously, world renowned Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández recently spent five years investigating the narcotics trade in Mexico, only to conclude that the collusion between the cartels and her government went all the way to the top. With regard to CDS and El Chapo Guzman specifically, Hernández contends they would be nothing if not for the concerted efforts of Mexico’s federal government and large business interests.

Those who caution against the “alarmism” raised by this DEA-Sinaloa alliance argue that these quid pro quo agreements between the two parties indicate nothing more than standard operating procedure and run-of-the-mill police work. After all, the use of confidential informants is a tactic that is routinely used; police cut deals with the bad guys all the time to target the “bigger and badder.” As Charles Parkinson of InSight Crime writes, if the “US operational focus has at times favored one cartel over another, it can quickly shift, making former collaborators the new priority.”

Indeed, within the black world of the narcotics trade, alliances can shift with the wind, and there may in fact not be anything at all inherently “special” about the current bond between the DEA and the Sinaloa cartel. Even the timing of the agreement, from 2000 to 2012 — correlating precisely to the government assisted prison escape of El Chapo and the growth in size and strength of his operation, may be entirely coincidental. To say that the “Sinaloa Cartel is aided and funded by the US government” is admittedly problematic on its face, as the mess created by the “war on drugs” pits the DEA and CIA almost perpetually at odds with each other.

Yet despite all the smoke and mirrors, shifting alliances, and questionable motives, the involvement of the US government in the drug trade through its many competing agencies assures a few constants: a destabilized, weakened, and dependent Latin America; increases in drug warrior budgets; and the sustained health of a nearly US$400 billion industry, without which banking systems and economies would falter severely. It is by exploring and understanding these relationships that the true dark alliance is revealed.

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Guillermo Jimenez- BFP Partner Producer & Analyst
Guillermo Jimenez is the owner and editor of Traces of Reality, host of TOR Radio and the De-Manufacturing Consent podcast on Boiling Frogs Post, and a regular columnist for the PanAmerican Post. He is based in South Texas, deep within the DHS "constitution-free zone." Follow @tracesofreality

De-Manufacturing Consent- Blowing the Whistle: The Price of Speaking Truth & the Greater Cost of Staying Silent

Guillermo Jimenez Presents Cele Castillo

Guillermo Jimenez Presents Cele Castillo
On this edition of De-Manufacturing Consent: Guillermo is joined by former DEA Agent, Iran-Contra whistleblower, and author of the book, Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras, and the Drug War, Celerino Castillo III. Cele shares his remarkable story, reflecting on a journey that began over twenty years ago after blowing the whistle on some of the biggest crimes the U.S. government has ever committed. Cele provides a first-hand account of the CIA's policy of death and destruction, its wiretapping of DEA agents in the field, the assassination of agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena by its assets, and how he narrowly escaped the same fate. We take a candid look at the price paid, both professionally and personally, for speaking truth to power, and why it had to be done.

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NarcoNews: Assassinated DEA Agent Kiki Camarena Fell in a CIA Operation Gone Awry

He Was Killed, They Say, Because "He Knew Too Much" About Official Corruption in the Drug War

By Bill Conroy

DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was abducted in early February 1985 shortly after leaving the US consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico. His body was found several weeks later, partially decomposed, wrapped in a plastic death shroud and buried in a shallow grave some 70 miles north of the Mexican city.

One of the chief architects of Camarena’s kidnapping, brutal torture and ultimate death, Rafael Caro Quintero, was released prematurely on Aug. [Read more...]