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…

…………………………………………………………………………………………

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…

……………………………………………………………..

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.

# # # #

*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.

# # # #

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

The EyeOpener- Morbid Addiction: CIA & the Drug Trade

The Modern-Day British East India Company: The CIA

BFPVideoLogo

Just as the British Empire was in part financed by their control of the opium trade through the British East India Company, so too has the CIA been found time after time to be at the heart of the modern international drug trade. From its very inception, the CIA has been embroiled in the murky underworld of drug trafficking.

There are billions of dollars per year to be made in keeping the drug trade going, and it has long been established that Wall Street and the major American banks rely on drug money as a ready source of liquid capital. With those kinds of funds at stake, it is unsurprising to see a media-government-banking nexus develop around the status quo of a never-ending war on drugs - aided, abetted and facilitated by the modern-day British East India Company, the CIA.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting the history, documented facts, and cases on the CIA’s involvement and operations in the underworld of drug trafficking, from the Corsican Mafia in the 1940s through the 1980s Contras to the recent Zambada Niebla Case today.

[jwplayer mediaid="7638" image="http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/wp-content/themes/bfpost/images/bfpvideostill.jpg"/]

*The Transcript for this video is now available at Corbett Report: Click Here

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by subscribing .

Subs

Another ‘Viable’ Candidate Bites the Dust …

Maksim Bakiyev: A Groomed Puppet Who Never Came to Be King

STBakKyrgyzstan’s Wanted Fugitive: Maksim Bakiyev. The story is more or less the same - the one that has been repeating itself for many decades.  The one based on a script written by the very same conductors who wrote the ones before, and who will probably be writing the ones to come (yes, they’re blessed with longevity; a curse for the rest of us). The location - always a resource rich country or one strategically crucial to resource rich countries. A viable candidate (sometimes candidates) chosen based on the exact same set of criteria - such as degree of corruptibility, and degree of atrocity or criminal tendencies. The grooming and training locations also are the same: the United States of America or the proxy brother, The United Kingdom. The supporting actors are a combination of old timers, think World Bank or IMF, and newer ones with even fancier names, such as XYZ Democratization and Development Fund, posing as well-intentioned NGOs. Okay, enough with the details, since we are very familiar with this repeating script and its consistent execution - collectively known and referred to as United States Foreign Policy.

The Bakiyev ‘Groom & Plant’ script, like almost all its predecessors, contains the same good ole classical elements: strategically important Central Asian nation, vital US fuel supply artery to keep the war machines humming and destroying in Afghanistan, major artery for transportation of heroin, puppet NATO partnership & the same-o-same-o big bad Russians to compete with, dozens of US NGO’s planted to serve you-know-who’s interests (here is a hint: not the people of Kyrgyzstan nor the American people), a staged and orchestrated revolution by our State Department - named after a innocently beautiful flower - to overthrow the guy who was closer to China & Russia, planting a new corrupt despot clan all carrying the same last name-Bakiyev. Then taking the son, the prince, Maksim Bakiyev, under ‘the mighty’ wings and starting his grooming and training here in the United States, helping the new groomed prince set up companies to corrupt & embezzle, and actually having our CIA operator(s) and politicians partner up with him in these enterprises - allocating  US financial experts, politicians,  and operators to execute a massive embezzlement scheme by the ‘groomed & planted’ prince, later to become a wanted fugitive ‘groomed but no longer planted’ prince with at least $70 million to be rescued and brought under protection…

CilBasically, with the Bakiyev story we have another all too familiar foreign policy and practices abroad scenario repeating itself. Before I get into that way too familiar story I want to revisit a couple of old ‘groom & plant’ examples I have covered here at Boiling Frogs post, starting with a ‘groomed & planted, and later protected’ Former Prime Minister of Turkey, Ms. Tansu Ciller as a perfect example of a Middle Eastern leader who was selected, declared ‘viable,’ supported, promoted, installed, and protected by our foreign policy script writers:

1. Ms. Ciller completed her advanced degrees in the United States – M.S. from the University of New Hampshire and PhD from the University of Connecticut. During this extended period while she resided in the US we had ample time and opportunity to train and mold her for the leadership position in Turkey.

2. Ms. Ciller was granted citizenship in the United States. In order to keep this fact from tarnishing her image during her candidacy campaign in Turkey and afterwards, we designated her US citizenship status ‘Classified and Top Secret’ on the grounds of Sensitive Diplomatic Relations. To this date, despite all attempts, Turkish authorities have been unable to have these files opened.

3. Ms. Ciller and her husband Ozer Ciller were closely involved with certain CIA operations prior to and after her return to Turkey, and their intimate relationship continued throughout her tenure as Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey. In fact, the CIA’s Roger Tamraz (see BCCI) was their partner in two front companies: ‘Emperyal’, which acquired and operated six (6) Casinos in Turkmenistan, and, ‘Lapis,’ involved with the oil pipeline project.

4. Ms. Ciller and her husband, before being considered ‘viable’ by us, already had an established shady financial past, including involvement in an embezzlement scandal connected to the collapse of ‘Istanbul Bankasi’, one of Turkey’s largest private banks. This along with involvements fortified Ms. Ciller’s qualification criteria when compared to competing applicants.

5. Ms. Ciller understood and participated in Turkey’s important strategic and operational role in the supply and transportation of heroin. She skillfully and very aggressively combined and furthered the marriage between the state military-police-intelligence and the underground heroin industry. Her notoriety even reached the German Courts, where she was accused of supporting and protecting the drug mafia – active not only in Turkey but elsewhere, including Europe and Central Asia.

6. Ms. Ciller played a direct role in scandals involving corruption, embezzlement, and state sponsored terrorism and narcotics operations. The best known scandal, one of her masterpieces, is known as ‘Susurluk’. Ciller and her husband – who is known for his mafia links and dealings, were directly implicated in Susurluk. The high profile kept by Ms. And Mr. Ciller during these scandals and their handling of them afterwards significantly bolstered their ‘value’ and ‘viability’ for us.

7. Ms. Ciller’s ‘known’ wealth is confirmed to be over $50 million, all of which was gained after she became a ‘’viable’ candidate supported directly by the US. A large portion of her investments and accounts are in the United States.

BhuttoZAnd here is our second example with the almost exact same script, a ‘groomed & planted, and many times rescued’ puppet(s) in Pakistan. I am making that ‘puppet’ plural since the same script happens to extend to the spouse who currently rules, kinda! And here is the list for the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ms. Benazir Bhutto:

.

1. Ms. Bhutto obtained her bachelor degree in the United States – BA from Radcliffe College at Harvard University. Later she attended Oxford University in the UK where she pursued International Law and Diplomacy. She spent a total of eight years in the US and UK – 1969-1977. Again, this time spent ‘abroad’ was ideal for the satisfactory grooming of Ms. Bhutto for ‘installment.’

2. Ms. Bhutto was granted British Citizenship and maintained her dual citizenship throughout her career as a candidate and later as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Her husband, the current President of Pakistan, also received British citizenship and has maintained his dual citizenship to date. The perceived conflict of interest back in her home country did not prove to be an obstacle for ‘us’ or the Bhuttos, thanks to our PR and global image projection activities.

3. Ms. Bhutto and her husband maintained intimate relationships with the underground economy and high level players of the heroin pipeline. Ms. Bhutto was a close ally, protector, and intimate friend of convicted Pakistani Drug Baron and Former Parliamentarian, Ayub Afridi, who like Bhutto, was given protection and safe haven in Dubai, one of our closest allies. These relationships and direct connections, some of which were directly inherited from her father, significantly bolstered Ms. Bhutto’s value for us and our British counterparts.

4. Ms. Bhutto and her husband proved to be desirably ambitious and admirably skilled in using their power, position, and connections, together with our protection, to misuse their proceeds of corruption and embezzlements to accumulate great wealth. Today her husband, who inherited this wealth, is the fifth richest man in Pakistan with a net worth of nearly $2 billion. As confirmation of their successful accumulation of wealth, in the 90s Ms. Bhutto and her husband purchased a 20-bedroom mansion in Surrey, England. They were known for their proficiency in receiving ‘kickbacks.’ Just the kickbacks they received from Swiss Cargo Inspection Companies alone were worth $12 million, which they stashed wisely in offshore companies in Swiss bank accounts.

5. Ms. Bhutto’s Bill of Mental Health was not of much interest. However, she was permitted to transfer credits from her husband, Mr. Ali Asif Zardari. His is a far more interesting mental health record, made all the more interesting since she pledged to place him in an official position of power. He and his ‘mental health’ conditions proved to be extremely useful in ‘necessary’ operations involving murder, drug smuggling, corruption, and embezzlement, thus our making an exception for Ms. Bhutto was justified in this particular case.

6. Ms. Bhutto exhibited great skills in ‘Multiple Image Projection’. With our direct backing and promotion she quickly sold her image as a needed progressive, democratic, and pro humanitarian leader for Pakistan. Just as quickly, at home in Pakistan, she was able to establishherself as equal to if not better than her dictatorial predecessors by sanctioning and carrying out extrajudicial killings, torture, persecution of religious minorities, and arbitrary detention. She also determinedly took extraordinary measures to muzzle the independent media. These skills were also applied to her utilization and exploitation of feministic support. At the same time she was portraying herself as a progressive and feminist example for ‘that’ part of the world, she was making deals and establishing close ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, notorious for their abuse of women…

Maksim Bakiyev: A Brief & MSM-Preferred Case Background

Let’s start with the commonly known, easily retrievable Wikipedia and mainstream media based background on Maksim Bakiyev and related recent news.

Who is Maksim Bakiyev? He is the 33 year old, fugitive, Kyrgyz businessman, the younger son of Kyrgyzstan’s former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Maksim currently lives in the United Kingdom - where he’s been granted residency and provided with protection (including for his embezzled millions). He studied legal law in Kyrgyzstan. According to his Wikipedia bio:

He received additional education on legal issues in Britain and the US. As a student, Maksim worked in a consultation firm, specializing in investment into emerging markets in Central Asia and the Middle East. Maksim was widely believed to be the richest man in Kyrgyzstan.

Hmmmmmm. What are the major information points missing here? What the heck did he really study in the US and Britain? Which universities? Was it Langley Campus? Where did he reside? McLean, Virginia? What was the name of this mysterious consulting firm specializing in investment into emerging markets in Central Asia & the Middle East? Was it one of James Baker’s firms? Or was it Henry Kissinger’s? Or, was it Carlyle? And, how did he become the richest man in Kyrgyzstan, from having nothing, in less than 5 years?

After skipping over all these important ‘missing links,’ we are fast forwarded to the latest presented by the media and here at Wikipedia:

Maksim was in charge of delivering fuel to the Manas International Airport, which also hosts a US airbase,[2] through Mina Corp. Maksim was appointed the head of Central Agency for Development in October of 2009. Since the 2010 overthrow he has been charged with embezzlement and abuse of power by the interim government. It is suspected that transferred about $35 million of a $300 million loan from Russia into his private bank accounts.[3] Prosecutors also allege that companies he owned almost $80 million in taxes on aviation fuel.

And finally, his latest and current status has been summed up below:

When the 2010 uprising took place, Bakiyev was headed to the US for a series of meetings in Washington.[5] However, he never showed up, and it is believed he spent his time in Latvia. In May Interpol posted Maxim Bakiyev as wanted on its website.

On June 13, 2010 Maksim was arrested in the UK when he landed at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire in a privately hired jet.[6] He is seeking asylum there, but the interim Kyrgyz government is demanding his extradition. A senior Kyrgyz official warned that the interim government would consider shutting down the Manas US airbase if Britain refuses to hand him over. [7] However, this was later denounced by president of Kyrgyzstan, Otunbaeva.

On June 18, 2010, it was reported that Bakiyev was granted temporary asylum in the UK, but this was later refuted by the UK Border Agency. [8] He does however have permission to stay pending consideration of request for asylum.

As you can see above, I highlighted another important missing link – a major point that has been so far glossed-over: This fugitive was initially headed to the US for a series of meetings in Washington. And these meetings were set up during and after the scandals involving him coming into the surface. Okay, at The State Department, CIA, and of course the not-so-visible agenda-setters at their companies, think tanks, and front NGOs? Then what happened? I guess  it was decided that he was too hot of a potato in too hot of an environment, so our State Department put a request to their counterparts in Britain to kindly ‘receive and harbor’ their ‘groomed & planted’ Kyrgyz prince…and they did.

So the above information is the sketch, the general story line on the ‘Bakiyev Story.’ Then, there are some additional juicy details and tidbits provided by a few, although still highly sanitized and consciously refrained from posing ‘the real’ questions. Let’s take a look at these and pose logical questions as we go.

Maksim Bakiyev & ‘Foreign’ Facilitated Embezzlement Schemes

So how did Maksim Bakiyev’s meager personal business grow into a major empire encompassing banking, oil, and telecommunication industries? We don’t have the complete answer to this question; not yet. Not with so much information still buried and ‘protected,’ and with only little sketchy details here and there. [Read more...]

Week 1 Countdown Update & Noteworthy News

BFP Countdown, NATO & Drug Smuggling, Holbrook’s Stan(s), Ron Paul & More

Today marks the end of week 1 of our online fundraising campaign. I am thankful to those of you who have kindly donated and helped with getting the word out. We have had contributions from 235 of you; thank you! We still have a long way to go to reach the first benchmark of 1000. As you can see I am counting the number of supporters rather than the dollar amount. For me, that is far more important, and that’s why no amount is considered too small; your willingness to support this site is what really counts. So please, let’s unite on this and take the countdown journey together. We need your help to get the word out and invite others to join this campaign. How hard is it to bring together 1000 or so members of the irate minority club?  We can do it!
 

PLEASE DONATE NOW

Other Updates

Peter and I are scheduled to interview three exciting guests: Activist and the founder of Cryptome.Org, John Young, author and activist Naomi Wolf, and the Director of Project Censored, Peter Phillips.

Here is the latest from Jamiol’s World:
 

PatActExt

  
And here are a few noteworthy articles and links:

German company accused of drug smuggling in Afghanistan
Nancy Isenson, APN/AFP

A German waste management firm employed by the NATO mission in Afghanistan has been accused of involvement in drug smuggling. Allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian family behind it date back to the war in Kosovo.

Allegations have surfaced that a German-based company contracted by NATO's ISAF troops in Afghanistan may have been involved in smuggling drugs out of the country.

"There is a chance that drugs or other such things have been smuggled," NATO General Egon Ramms, chief at ISAF headquarters in the Netherlands told German public broadcaster NDR.

The German general confirmed that an investigation was underway into allegations that Dusseldorf-based Ecolog used contracts with NATO or ISAF for illegal activities. The firm had been working for NATO in Afghanistan since 2003, Ramms said.

Ecolog is employed by ISAF to handle laundry services at various locations in Kabul as well as garbage disposal at the military airport and ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital. The company had been in charge of fuel deliveries to NATO troops in the past.

According to NDR, initial allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian-Albanian family behind the company date back to the war in Kosovo. Then NATO-led KFOR troops had already suggested there may have been links between the Destani family and organized crime.

NATO is investigating NATO, again; right?!  Anyone here remember Jan Willem Matser? Of course not. How could we be asked to remember something we never knew about? Thanks to our media here the name wouldn’t ring a bell with anyone except a few irate members here who read my piece last June.

Matser, a Dutch Lieutenant Colonel in Staff to NATO Secretary General George Robertson in charge of Eastern Europe, whose job gave him access to classified NATO material, was arrested on February 2003 in Wemmel, Belgium, and charged with trying to launder at least $200 million for an international drug cartel from his office at the alliance’s HQ in Brussels. Other criminals involved in Matser’s case were Mohammed Kadem, a Moroccan, and Pietro Fedino, a wealthy Sicilian with a previous conviction for cocaine smuggling.

Here is some background as reported by Times UK :

According to documents seen by The Sunday Times, the investigation began last September after customs police at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam received a tip-off about a FedEx parcel sent from Colombia to an address in the Netherlands. The parcel was found to contain a receipt for a £120m deposit at a bank in Bogotá and a fake document authorising the transfer of the same amount of money to Tender SA, a company registered in the Romanian town of Timisoara. The company is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

And here is some more background on the investigations from the same report by Times UK:

The information was passed to a police unit working for the Dutch finance ministry that specializes in combating organised crime. The package was fitted with a bug and resealed. It was allegedly received by Fedino, who is suspected by the Dutch police of being an Italian mafia boss. Five agents monitored him around the clock and listened to his telephone calls. It was this surveillance that led police to Matser. In a call taped on September 7, a man later identified as Matser said he was “going to be leaving NATO in half an hour”.

In a further conversation, on December 27, Matser allegedly said: “I’ll make false documents for the entire transaction . . . It’s no problem; my computer’s very patient and I can even recreate the official notary seals from old documents.” Matser also held several meetings with his alleged accomplices. One meeting with Kadem on Christmas Eve at the Airport hotel in Rotterdam was filmed by the surveillance team. Kadem was already the focus of four international drug investigations and had been sought by Interpol since 1996.”Investigators believe Matser helped to set up the scheme when NATO sent him to Romania last year to instruct central European intelligence chiefs on how to raise standards.”

Interestingly Dick Cheney’s Halliburton happened to be another contender for control of Romania’s Petrom. Here is the ‘Interesting’ Connection:

Matser and Tender are further connected by their failed attempt to gain control of PETROM National Society (SNP), a soon-to-be privatized Romanian oil-company, which produces 10% of the Romanian GDP. Tender, Matser and Halliburton formed a consortium in an effort to gain controlling stakes – 51% estimated to be worth approx. US$ 1 billion. A few days following the announcement of this trio’s interest, Matser was arrested. Subsequently, Romania’s Economy Ministry has made it known that the consortium had not met its criteria and was no longer being considered.”

NATO or its defendants never answered the following question that arose from the Matser Case, I guess they didn’t have to; after all, they are ‘NATO’:

The silence has been deafening which has greeted the revelation that NATO officials consort with some of the biggest gangsters in organised crime. Yet it is obvious what questions Matser’s convictions throws up. What did Matser’s bosses at NATO, including the Secretary-General, know about his criminal activities? How can a NATO official, with all the security controls which such a post implies, entertain friendship and business contacts with well-known gangsters and criminals? How can he amass such stupendous sums of money while holding down a full-time office job?

Despite serious charges supported by tons of evidence Matser was mysteriously acquitted :

A Dutch court on 27 January acquitted former NATO official Jan Willem Matser of charges he attempted to launder $200 million by channeling money from a Colombian bank account to Belgium via Romania, AP and AFP reported (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” 14 January 2004). The judge said prosecutors had failed to support the money-laundering charges. Matser was found guilty of forgery and fraud on two other accounts and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, but was ordered released because he has already served two-thirds of the sentence in pretrial detention. He was given three years’ probation.

No ‘real’ explanation has ever been provided for his acquittal. Matser was convicted of forgery but acquitted of other charges, including belonging to a criminal organization. Yep, that’s the kind of immunity you get if you are a NATO man directly or indirectly.

I don’t want to sound like an online gambling center operator, but who wants to bet against me on this:

The company in question, Ecolog, won’t be touched; NATO will make it swoooshhhhh disappear, and continue its ‘real’ business with our Langley guys in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

…………..

Holbrooke seeks Central Asia help for Afghanistan
Peter Leonard, AP News

U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visited Kazakhstan on Sunday to drum up regional assistance in stabilizing Afghanistan, the last stop on his tour of former Soviet states in Central Asia.

The recent surge in the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a U.S. effort to enlist help from neighboring nations in rebuilding the war-ravaged country and to provide reassurances that the war won't spill over the border. We are talking to all the countries that have a concern in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that is why we are here today," Holbrooke said in Kazakh capital of Astana.

So, what’s the purpose? [Read more...]

NATO: Network Advancing Thugs Operations?

Just Asking

Last week Jeremy Scahill covered a very interesting story over at his blog titled ‘Paramilitary Thug with Long History with Top US Democrats Arrested for War Crimes.’ The story is about Agim Ceku who commanded the ethnic cleansing operations in Yugoslavia in 90s, and then headed KLA, an organization labeled ‘terrorist’ by the US government. I briefly covered the issues related to KLA and it’s tainted and biased coverage by the US MSM in ‘The Forbidden Apple of the US Press, and talked about their burial of the dark side of KLA and our government’s partnership with them as just another example of our hypocrisy-ridden foreign policy.

Back to Scahill’s nicely-done piece, and a summary of the case provided in the introduction paragraph:

    “A US-trained paramilitary figure from the Balkans with a lengthy history with leading Clinton-era Democrats, including some now in the Obama administration, has been arrestedin Europe on an Interpol warrant for war crimes. Agim Ceku, an Albanian from Kosovo, is a former Croatian Army General who was trained by the private US security firm Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) during the Clinton Administration. Ceku, backed by the US, would go on to become the “prime minister” of Kosovo despite the fact that he was responsible for some of the worst acts of “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and was the leader of a paramilitary organization with drug trade ties, which Clinton’s top envoy to Kosovo called a “terrorist” organization.”

For the purpose of my coverage please put your own emphasis on “…the leader of a paramilitary organization with drug trade ties.” Now a bit more on Ceku as the darling of the US government and its extension, NATO:

    “Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, worked with Ceku when Clark led the bombing of Kosovo. “[Ceku] could have been in anybody’s army and done well,” saidClark in 2007.”

And two important excerpts for my purposes with emphasis added:

    “Despite US intelligence that indicatedthat the KLA was a terrorist organization with ties to narco-trafficking and networks connected to Osama bin Laden, the Clinton Administration embraced the organization as its proxy armed force on the ground in Kosovo in 1998-1999.”

    “This is not the first time Ceku has been arrested. In 2003, he was detained in an airport in Slovenia and in 2004 at the airport in Budapest. In May 2009, he was deported from Columbia.”

Since the story’s main focus is on Ceku’s role in ethnic cleansing and our shameful diplomatic relations - based on even more shameful objectives and foreign policy, there is no explanation for Ceku’s trip to and stay in Colombia. We already know he is connected to Narco-Trafficking, and we know the importance of the Balkan Route to the heroin industry. But what the hell was Ceku doing in Colombia? Is there some sort of a barter system, heroin-for cocaine and vice versa within the industry? Again, keep this thought for what’s to follow. Reported as an update by Scahill, interestingly but expectedly, due to “international intervention” Ceku was ordered released the next day, on Thursday, June 25.

Hmmmm, international intervention? That makes it NATO-US.

I do follow Scahill’s reports and editorial pieces regularly, and he is one of very few journalists out there whom I respect. This piece got my attention especially, and brought back memories of another story I followed personally for over a year: Jan Willem Matser, another NATO Thug.

Jan Willem Matser, a Dutch Lieutenant Colonel in Staff to NATO Secretary General George Robertson in charge of Eastern Europe, whose job gave him access to classified NATO material, was arrested on February 2003 in Wemmel, Belgium, and charged with trying to launder at least $200 million for an international drug cartel from his office at the alliance’s HQ in Brussels. Other criminals involved in Matser’s case were Mohammed Kadem, a Moroccan, and Pietro Fedino, a wealthy Sicilian with a previous conviction for cocaine smuggling.

Here is some background as reported by Times UK :

    “According to documents seen by The Sunday Times, the investigation began last September after customs police at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam received a tip-off about a FedEx parcel sent from Colombia [Emphasis Added] to an address in the Netherlands. The parcel was found to contain a receipt for a £120m deposit at a bank in Bogotá [Emphasis Added] and a fake document authorising the transfer of the same amount of money to Tender SA, a company registered in the Romanian town of Timisoara. The company is not suspected of any wrongdoing.”

And here some more background on the investigations from the same report by Times UK:

    “The information was passed to a police unit working for the Dutch finance ministry that specializes in combating organised crime. The package was fitted with a bug and resealed. It was allegedly received by Fedino, who is suspected by the Dutch police of being an Italian mafia boss. Five agents monitored him around the clock and listened to his telephone calls. It was this surveillance that led police to Matser. In a call taped on September 7, a man later identified as Matser said he was “going to be leaving NATO in half an hour”.”

And more,

    “In a further conversation, on December 27, Matser allegedly said: “I’ll make false documents for the entire transaction . . . It’s no problem; my computer’s very patient and I can even recreate the official notary seals from old documents.” Matser also held several meetings with his alleged accomplices. One meeting with Kadem on Christmas Eve at the Airport hotel in Rotterdam was filmed by the surveillance team. Kadem was already the focus of four international drug investigations and had been sought by Interpol since 1996.”Investigators believe Matser helped to set up the scheme when Nato sent him to Romania last year to instruct central European intelligence chiefs on how to raise standards.”

Here comes another very interesting connection:

    “Matser — an assistant to Chris Donnelly, Robertson’s special adviser for central and eastern Europe — is believed to have used his contacts in Romania’s domestic secret service to arrange meetings with senior members of the government. He is thought to have told them of plans to launch a fund, backed by wealthy individuals and middle-ranking investors that would invest £1.8 billion in Romania. This was to begin with the purchase of Petrom, oil refining company, and Libra Bank [Emphasis Added]”

Interestingly Dick Cheney’s Halliburton happened to be another contender for control of Romania’s Petrom. Here is the ‘Interesting’ Connection:

    “Matser and Tender are further connected by their failed attempt to gain control of PETROM National Society (SNP), a soon-to-be privatized Romanian oil-company, which produces 10% of the Romanian GDP. Tender, Matser and Halliburton formed a consortium in an effort to gain controlling stakes - 51% estimated to be worth approx. US$ 1 billion. A few days following the announcement of this trio's interest, Matser was arrested. Subsequently, Romania's Economy Ministry has made it known that the consortium had not met its criteria and was no longer being considered.”

Sanders Research has one of the very few analyses of Matser’s case, here are a few excerpts:

    “Matser had a suspiciously large amount of money to invest, as the Dutch police found out. They discovered in Matser’s apartment papers from a Romanian holding company, Tender SA, owned by the tycoon Ovidiu Tender. Matser said that he had frequently carried out such money transfers with Tender, whom he had met at a NATO-related conference in the Romanian mountain resort of Sinaia in April 2002, [2] and who is often described as being “close” to the Romanian president, Ion Iliescu. Tender was interviewed by the Dutch investigators, and he told them that he had attended a meeting between Matser and the Romanian prime minister, Adrian Nastase, at which Matser had announced that he had no less than $2 – 3 billion to invest. In the latter half of 2002, Matser nearly concluded the purchase of a Libra Bank in Romania. [3] And it seems that he may have been interested in using his money to buy a stake in the Romanian oil giant, Petrom, in which Tender also has an interest. (Oddly enough, another contender for control of Romania’s petro-chemical industry was none other than Hallburton, the company which used to be headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney[Emphasis Added].”

Do you want to get a good chuckle? Here is how Matser tried to explain the source of his fortune:

    “Matser claimed that he had such gigantic sums at his disposal because he ran a sort of freelance brokerage business in the short-term money markets. He claimed that he operated on a 40% commission for companies seeking short-term loans, and that with this business he had amassed a fortune which he wanted to invest. Specialists consulted during the trial said this was simply impossible. But because he was friendly with numerous notorious criminals, his activities started to arouse suspicion, in particular that he was involved in laundering money for drug dealers. Although Matser was in fact acquitted of complicity in organised crime, his two co-defendants had previous convictions for drug dealing and fraud. And he was friendly with Mohammed Kadem, a Moroccan who is alleged to be one of the biggest drug dealers in the Netherlands.”

And here is how NATO tried to wiggle its way out of this (well, as you will see later, in the end it did!):

    “What is clear is that Matser not only had connections with numerous very powerful criminals – the phone number of his co-defendant, Pietro Fedino, the notorious Italian Mafioso [5], was in his mobile – but also that he had astonishingly high-level political contacts too. On his arrest and conviction, NATO insisted that he was merely a junior employee of the association, and thus tried to dissociate itself from his conviction. But if he was so junior, how did he manage to hold meetings with the Romanian prime minister, or to meet the most powerful men in the country? And how was it that he saw Lord Robertson, Secretary-General of the Atlantic Alliance, nearly every day? Matser even used to use the headed paper of the Secretary-General for his own personal notes.”

NATO or its defendants never answered the following question that arose from the Matser Case, I guess they didn’t have to; after all, they are ‘NATO’:

    “The silence has been deafening which has greeted the revelation that NATO officials consort with some of the biggest gangsters in organised crime. Yet it is obvious what questions Matser’s convictions throws up. What did Matser’s bosses at NATO, including the Secretary-General, know about his criminal activities? How can a NATO official, with all the security controls which such a post implies, entertain friendship and business contacts with well-known gangsters and criminals? How can he amass such stupendous sums of money while holding down a full-time office job?”

Guess what? As with Scahill’s Agim Ceku, despite serious charges supported by tons of evidence Matser was mysteriously acquitted.

    “A Dutch court on 27 January acquitted former NATO official Jan Willem Matser of charges he attempted to launder $200 million by channeling money from a Colombian bank account to Belgium via Romania, AP and AFP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 January 2004). The judge said prosecutors had failed to support the money-laundering charges. Matser was found guilty of forgery and fraud on two other accounts and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, but was ordered released because he has already served two-thirds of the sentence in pretrial detention. He was given three years' probation.”

No ‘real’ explanation has ever been provided for his acquittal. Matser was convicted of forgery but acquitted of other charges, including belonging to a criminal organization. Yap, that’s the kind of immunity you get if you are a NATO man directly or indirectly. The organization seems to work like a network set up to advance large scale criminal operations.

And finally, even more interestingly, this story which became the front page news for days, even weeks, in Dutch and Romanian media, received ‘0,’ that is ‘zero,’ as in ‘zilch’ coverage in the USA media. Go check it for yourself. Enter Matser’s name in any news search engine of your choice and wait for the results. Seriously, go and do it. You’ll see 3 or 4 pieces in English, in UK papers, and NOTHING here in the United States of America. I don’t have to wonder why. Do you?

Cartoon by Paul Jamiol

Project EXPOSE MSM Report 2

Major DEA Scandal & Time Magazine

As noted in the announcement, 123 Real Change invites all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and reporters, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored/blacked out, tainted, or otherwise met with a betrayal of trust.

This second project report is based on the first-hand documented experience of Mr. Sandalio Gonzalez, retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent in Charge. Time Magazine reporters Tim Burger and Tim Padgett had an opportunity to speak at length with Mr. Gonzalez and several other veteran DEA agents with direct knowledge of a major corruption case involving several DEA agents on drug traffickers’ payrolls in Colombia. The involved corrupt US officers were also directly involved in helping Colombia's paramilitary death squads launder drug proceeds. Further presented was the documented cover up of this major scandal by the DEA and DOJ IG offices. Despite corroboration by a number of other sources, including several veteran DEA agents and other government officials with first-hand knowledge of the case, and documented evidence disclosed and provided, and despite being given an ‘exclusive’ to the story as insisted on by them, Time Magazine never published the story, and no reasons were ever provided.

Name, Title, and /or Background

Name: Sandalio Gonzalez

Title: Special Agent in Charge (Ret.), DEA

Background: Mr. Gonzalez retired from the DEA as Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso, Texas Field Division in January 2005 after 32 years in law enforcement. He began his career in 1972 at the local level in Los Angeles, California and joined the DEA in 1978.

For more detailed background information see here.

Name of Publication and/or Editor and/or Reporter

Publication: Time Magazine

Reporter: Tim Padgett & Tim Burger

Editor: Unknown

Method

Complete blackout. No reason provided. The disclosure was supported and corroborated by three other highly credible veteran DEA agents, officials, and documents.

Description of Disclosure & Significance

By Sandalio Gonzalez

In late fall of 2005, Time Magazine’s DC Office was provided with detailed information and documents regarding a major story involving the DEA. The story had not been broken publicly before, and several publishers were competing to get what they referred to as an ‘Exclusive Scoop’, since they had been briefed generally and shown sample documents. Time Magazine seemed anxious to see and hear it all, and we were told they’d run it ‘big time’ if they were given documents, provided with access to witnesses, and all this ‘exclusively.’ Well, Time Magazine was in fact given everything they asked for; exclusively.

After Time’s DC office reporter Tim Burger received the initial/sample documents and statements (with NSWBC acting as coordinator and third party), they sat on the story for more than a month. Later we were told that the story was transferred to their Miami Office. After follow ups and pressure by NSWBC on the status of this ‘exclusive story’ with Time, one last meeting was set up with Tim Padgett, Time’s Miami bureau reporter.

The meeting with the Time reporter in Miami was attended by several other current and former DEA agents as sources and witnesses. Some of these witnesses had to travel to attend the meeting and provide the Time reporter with their reports. The three agents disclosed their account and documented information involving the never-public-before scandal and the subsequent cover up by the US government. Sibel Edmonds, Director and Founder of NSWBC, and Professor William Weaver, Senior Advisor for NSWBC, had also flown to Miami to attend and monitor the interview.

The center of the report dealt with ‘never-before-public’ documents and first hand witness statements, the Kent Memo, and related subjects and information. This case and its facts, statements, and documents, given to Time Magazine before and during that meeting, involved one of the most serious allegations ever brought against DEA officers.

On Dec. 19, 2004, Thomas M. Kent, an attorney in the wiretap unit of the Justice Department’s Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Section (NDDS), submitted his memo to his section chief Jody Avergun, who would soon thereafter leave the DOJ to become the Executive Assistant to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, with full knowledge of the reported corruption and cover up, and did nothing to correct it. The copies of this memo were forwarded to several high-level officials within DOJ and DEA.

In his memo, Mr. Kent reported several corruption allegations involving the DEA's office in Bogotá, Columbia. The allegations in the memo were supported by several credible DEA agents in Florida with impeccable records. These agents – witnesses - were muzzled and retaliated against after they attempted to expose the corruption. Based on Mr. Kent’s report, supported by other DEA agents, the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) covered up the report and the corruption charges and sabotaged investigations by the Florida DEA office.

Here are the major points covered by Mr. Kent in the memo:

  • Several DEA agents in Colombia are in fact on drug traffickers' payrolls.
  • Some of these corrupt US officers are directly involved in helping Colombia's paramilitary death squads launder drug proceeds.
  • The implicated agents have been protected by "watchdog" agencies within the Justice Department.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Kent’s Memo:

“As discussed in my (prior) memorandum dated December 13, 2004, several unrelated investigations, including Operation Snowplow, identified corrupt agents within DEA. As further discussed in my memorandum, OPR's handling of the investigations into those allegations has come into question and the OIG investigator who was actively looking into the allegations has been removed from the investigation.”

And here is another regarding other agents and witnesses who had come forward:

“As promised, I am providing you with further information on the allegations and evidence that is already in files at OPR and OIG. Agents I know were able to vouch for my credibility and several individuals close to the prior investigations that uncovered corruption agreed to speak with me…Having been failed by so many before and facing tremendous risks to their careers and their safety and the safety of their families, they were understandably hesitant to reveal the information I requested, including the names of those directly involved in criminal activity in Bogotá and the United States. They agreed to reveal the names to me on the condition that I not further disseminate these for the time being. They are prepared to provide the Public Integrity Section with those names and everything in the files at OPR and OIG, and then some, if called upon to do so”.


According to the report, one of the corrupt agents from Bogotá was actually caught on a wiretap in 2004 while he was discussing criminal activity related to the paramilitary group called the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The group is known to be involved in narco-trafficking and arms dealing at the highest levels, and has been involved in death squads responsible for murdering thousands of Colombians. Kent reports that during the wiretap, this DEA agent discusses his involvement in laundering money for the AUC. However, despite being caught on tape the agent faced no reprimand. Just the opposite, according to Kent, the agent was promoted: "That call has been documented by the DEA and that agent is now in charge of numerous narcotics and money laundering investigations."


The memo also alleged that DOJ officials shut down a money laundering investigation because they knew it was connected to the DEA corruption case in Bogotá:

"In June 2004, OPR and DEA, the two agencies embarrassed by the prior allegations (involving the Bogotá agents) and likely to come under tremendous scrutiny for their own actions in response, demanded that my case agent turn all of the (investigation) information ... over to OPR," Kent states in the memorandum. "One week after submitting the (information) to OPR, the money laundering investigation was shut down."

In addition to the facts included in Kent’s reports, Time Magazine was also provided with corroborated reports on related cases, including a case of major leaks from the US Embassy in Bogotá that contained extremely sensitive intelligence.

That meeting gave Time Magazine one last chance, and the benefit of the doubt, to live up to its word given to us previously; to expose this major case and even more serious cover up by the Justice Department’s IG. We made it clear that after waiting for Time Magazine for months they had to give us a response within a day or two as to whether they were running the story, and if so when. The reporter, Tim Padgett, did seem genuinely interested, and made it clear that he had to persuade the editors and magazine management. He appeared to have his reservations as to the magazine’s willingness and or courage to ‘touch’ a story of this magnitude. We never heard back from him, or Tim Burger, or anyone else from the magazine. Time Magazine never delivered the ‘exclusive scoop’ given to them, all packaged with credible DEA witnesses and envelopes containing official documents. In fact, the MSM has never thoroughly covered this story. The only coverage of Kent Memo was given by web-based publisher, Narco News.

Comments in response by Mr. Tim Padgett, reporter, Time Magazine, Miami Office:

I contacted Mr. Padgett twice via e-mail. To my second request he provided me with the following reply:

For the record, I had no reservations about Time Magazine's "willingness and or courage to 'touch' a story of this magnitude." Time regularly takes on controversial stories; we simply decided in the end, after examining the material at hand, not to pursue this one. Tim PadgettMiami & Latin America Bureau ChiefTIME Magazine

Comments in response by Mr. Tim Burger, reporter, Time Magazine, DC Bureau:

Despite several requests for response, Mr. Burger did not reply.

Comments in response by Time Magazine:

Despite several requests for response, Time Magazine editor(s) did not reply.

Statement from Professor William Weaver, Senior Advisor, NSWBC:

This disheartening episode is, unfortunately, very familiar, and the story of DEA corruption and entanglement with Colombian drug cartels appears to have been ignored after initial interest for a variety of reasons. First, it is not easily digestible and therefore runs afoul of editors’ and reporters’ prejudice toward stories that may be quickly and simply related to the public. Emphasis on simplicity instead of on what the public should know about cuts down on research and reporter time, which are expensive, and feeds into the common belief that the public is largely incapable of understanding, or uninterested in, complicated stories. Second, running such a story may anger sources of information from government that reporters have come to rely upon. As great as any one story may be, a reporter’s career in these areas often depends on keeping friendly relations with cultivated sources. Ultimately, sometimes these sources end up dictating what shall and shall not be published. Finally, a story must make it past editors and staff who have interests that conflict with the goal of getting important news to the public. Considerations of effects on advertisers, sources of information, how shareholders and management will view decisions to publish particular stories, and other matters unrelated to “newsworthiness” affect a potential story’s fate. We need only look to The New York Times’ decision to delay reporting the existence of the probably unconstitutional Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) for an example of how forces inside MSM may outflank the newsworthy nature of a story. The story concerning the Bush Administration TSP was set to break just before the presidential election in 2004, but apparent appeals by Bush Administration officials and President Bush himself to The New York Times delayed publication until December 2005. And the story only came to light because of a whistleblower and the fact that the matter appeared destined to emerge in other forums. The refusal of The New York Times to publish the story in 2004 very possibly is the only reason that Bush prevailed over John Kerry. Time magazine’s failure to investigate the events outlined in the Kent Memo and by veteran, decorated DEA agents concerning wide-ranging government corruption is another abysmal example of how the public is ill-served by the MSM.

Statement from Sibel Edmonds, Founder and Director, NSWBC:

Our organization, NSWBC, persuaded these government sources and witnesses to come forward and provide the American people with this major report exposing corruption and cover-ups - which sheds light on the ‘real’ story of our government’s so-called ‘War on Drugs.’ Despite their reservations and the risks they faced, these witnesses agreed to disclose their first-hand accounts and documented facts, and to do so only once through what they considered to be a ‘major publication.’ During the interview, while listening to these agents and reviewing the sets of documents put in front of him, Time reporter, Tim Padgett, appeared flabbergasted and excited. At the end of the meeting he expressed it verbally and concluded that the story was incredible and highly explosive. This was a journalist’s dream: to have four veteran agents with impeccable career records as sources, to have tons of printed documents (official letters, IG reports, and more), and a major scandal contradicting the illusion of the War on Drugs - which has been costing lives and billions of dollars. I also have to add: Mr. Padgett expressed his reservations and pessimism regarding his editor(s) and Time’s management having the resolve and or willingness to run this ‘explosive’ story.

# # # #

Project Expose MSM is an experimental project created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers. I encourage those of you with direct knowledge and experience to join this project by sharing your experiences. Please E-mail me with your report, following the format described in the introductory announcement.

Cross-posted at The BRAD BLOG...