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

NarcoNews: CIA Veteran Sees Big Hole in Sterling Espionage Conviction

Retired Counterintelligence Officer Claims Intelligence Agency’s Office of Security Dropped the Ball

By Bill Conroy

A former CIA spy manager is raising a serious question about the way the intelligence agency handled the national-security risk raised in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who was recently convicted on espionage charges for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Leutrell Osborne is a 27-year veteran of the CIA who as a case officer oversaw spies and assets in 30 countries. He said he befriended Sterling, who like Osborne is African American, during the course of a discrimination lawsuit Sterling initiated against the CIA in 2000. That litigation was ultimately dismissed by the courts in early 2006 due to the government’s national security claims.

“I decided to assist Jeffrey [Sterling] in his discrimination case because I had respect for him because he was a black man, an attorney and a spy manager, and part of the reason I worked at the CIA was so people like him could follow me,” said Osborne, a CIA employee from 1957-1984. [Video: Leutrell Osborne: Black Man in the CIA]

Osborne, who now runs a business-consulting firm, had numerous interactions and conversations with Sterling, which he said should have been of interest to the CIA’s Office of Security in the course of any internal agency investigation of potential classified-information leaks.

However, Osborne said the CIA never contacted him about Sterling, prior to or during the course of the criminal investigation targeting Sterling. That criminal investigation, which led to Sterling’s indictment in 2010, was initiated by at least 2008 — when reporter Risen was first subpoenaed in the case. Osborne also said that, to date, the CIA has not returned a call he made to the agency shortly after Sterling’s conviction in late January.

If the CIA was truly concerned that Sterling was leaking classified information, then the agency should have vetted anyone who had his confidence, particularly current and former CIA personnel, to determine the extent of his alleged espionage activities, Osborne contends.

“The CIA investigated Sterling, and they knew I knew him, or should have known, yet they did not talk to me,” Osborne said. “Is the CIA that incompetent in security? The CIA is supposedly the best security organization in the world, and yet they didn’t care that there were holes in their investigation? That raises a red flag for me.”

A federal court jury in Virginia found Sterling guilty earlier this year on nine criminal counts related to charges that he provided classified documents to Risen sometime between 2001 and 2005 that were made public in a book that the journalist published in early 2006. Risen’s tome, “State of War,” included a chapter detailing a CIA covert plan to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons development capabilities.  Sterling, now 47, was assigned from 1998 to mid-2000 as an operational officer in the unit overseeing that Iran program, dubbed Operation Merlin in court records.

The government’s case against Sterling was made with circumstantial evidence — primarily records of phone calls and emails exchanged between Sterling and Risen between 2003 and 2005, none of which contained a smoking gun proving conclusively that Sterling leaked classified information. Sterling’s lawyers argued that the trail of emails and phone calls dovetailed in time with his discrimination lawsuit against the CIA and dealt with that matter, which Risen had written about in the New York Times previously. In addition, the defense argued that there were a number of other potential sources for Risen’s book, including Senate Select Intelligence Committee staffers, given Sterling in 2003 provided information to them legally as a whistleblower on what he deemed flaws in the covert Iran program.

The Department of Justice engaged in a controversial battle across the Bush and Obama administrations to force Risen to reveal his sources on Operation Merlin. Ultimately, though, the Department of Justice backed down as Sterling’s trial got underway in mid-January and did not call Risen to testify. Government attorneys argue that Sterling was a disgruntled former CIA employee motivated to strike back at the agency and that convictions based on strong circumstantial evidence are not out of the ordinary in the judicial system.

But Osborne’s criticism has more to do with CIA internal procedures than Sterling’s criminal case itself, though he argues that there is some pause for concern that the agency may have pushed the criminal case against Sterling in retaliation for his whistleblowing and discrimination lawsuit against the agency.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who represented Sterling in the discrimination case, said Osborne “gave media interviews” during the course of Sterling’s discrimination litigation, including for national outlets such as CNN, “and was very supportive of Jeff [Sterling],” though he never testified in the case. Osborne said the CIA certainly was aware of his relationship with Sterling, or at least should have been as the world’s premier intelligence agency. In addition, Osborne said he placed a call to the CIA in early February, shortly after Sterling’s conviction, but still has not been contacted by the agency.

Osborne points out that CIA attorneys do not try criminal cases and the CIA itself has no arrest powers. Once a suspect in a classified-information leak is identified, he said, the case is normally turned over to the FBI and Department of Justice attorney’s to pursue via the criminal justice system.

However, that does not absolve the CIA, he said, of conducting its own thorough internal investigation to determine the extent of the leak and how extensive the problem is and what other agency operations might have been affected or compromised. Because he had a relationship with Sterling, the CIA should have had an interest in determining what information was exchanged between them, Osborne said.

The CIA unit responsible for protecting classified information from disclosure, and for investigating such breaches, is the Office of Security.

“That unit [the Office of Security] should have been on the job. I was a potential hole in the security, and yet no one from CIA contacted me,” Osborne stressed. “The Office of Security’s job is to look for the dirty laundry, and possibly share what they find with the FBI. I should have been contacted.”

Osborne said the fact that CIA investigators did not question him prompts a suspicion that Sterling was not the national-security threat the agency portrayed him to be and that some individuals at the CIA may have “manipulated” the Department of Justice into pursuing an espionage case against him. Alternatively, another possible implication of the agency’s failure to vet Osborne is equally troubling. That lapse, he said, points to a potential serious weakness in the CIA’s internal “security protocols” for containing espionage threats.

Dean Boyd, director of the CIA Office of Public Affairs, when asked about Osborne’s allegations, provided the following response via email:

“The criminal investigation of Jeffrey Sterling and his unauthorized disclosure of classified information was conducted by the FBI. The criminal prosecution was handled by the Department of Justice. As you may know, determinations on potential witnesses or interviews to be conducted in connection with a criminal investigation and prosecution are the purview of the FBI and Department of Justice.”

When asked in a follow-up email to address the specific concern Osborne raised about the failure of CIA investigators to contact him as part of the agency’s internal security protocols, Boyd replied: “We have no further information for you.”

“There are valleys between DOJ, FBI and the CIA,” Osborne said. “CIA uses DOJ attorneys for criminal cases, but it doesn’t’ make sense that CIA did not contact me or that DOJ should have handled that,” given any compromise of classified information potentially threatens broader CIA operations possibly not even known to DOJ. Osborne added that neither the DOJ or FBI contacted him about Sterling — nor did he reach out to them.

“This discussion just accentuates how stupid this situation is,” Osborne added.

For the record, Osborne said Sterling never shared any classified information with him.

“I did not inquire about what he did for the CIA,” Osborne said. “And he had too much respect for me to involve me in his garbage. Sterling never shared with me anything he did clandestinely for the CIA.”

Past Deceptions

This isn’t the first time the CIA Office of Security has been called out for failing to do its job properly.

In March of last year, US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, then chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), lashed out publicly at the CIA, accusing the agency and its top lawyer of illegally spying on the Senate staff charged with investigating the George W. Bush-era terrorism practices. She accused the CIA of seeking to intimidate the Senate committee by asking the Justice Department to investigate those same staffers based on what she described as “inaccurate information” provided to the Justice Department.

Although Feinstein did not then publicly identify the CIA lawyer she accused of helping to orchestrate the alleged attack on the Senate staff — via his referral of charges to DOJ — White House spokesman Jay Carney subsequently confirmed that it was then-Acting CIA General Counsel Robert Eatinger.

The Senate staff was utilizing secure computers set up by the CIA that allowed them to examine millions of documents to prepare a 6,000-page report on the terrorism-detention and interrogation program. An abbreviated version of that report, some 500 pages long and released in December of last year, determined the CIA’s use of torture to obtain information from suspects held in secret prisons didn’t work, yet the agency lied repeatedly in claiming it was effective.

In the course of preparing their report for Feinstein’s committee, the CIA alleges the Senate staffers illegally hacked into the agency’s computers to obtain information — creating the basis for Eatinger’s request for a DOJ criminal investigation. Senate staffers maintain the information in question was contained in trove of records made available to them by CIA for examination.

A five-member CIA Accountability Board, which included three CIA officials, was assembled to investigate the matter and determined in findings issued this past January that CIA personnel did nothing illegal, that it was all essentially an honest misunderstanding.

However, Feinstein took issue with the findings of the board and issued a blistering critique.

“Regardless of the extent of the violation or intent of those involved, someone should be held accountable,” she said in a press release published on Jan. 27. “…The CIA IG [Inspector General, in a separate report] found the CIA criminal referral against SSCI staff was based on inaccurate information provided to Acting General Counsel Bob Eatinger by personnel in CIA’s Office of Security. The actions of these individuals were ignored by the CIA Accountability Board, which is shocking and unacceptable.” [Emphasis added.]

So, essentially, a US senator claims the CIA’s Office of Security lied to the Department of Justice as part of an effort to launch a criminal investigation into Senate staffers

…………………………………………………

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

NarcoNews: Torture Report Reveals CIA’s Manipulation of US Media

Agency Used Classified Information as Currency for Deception
By Bill Conroy

The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report pillorying the CIA’s Bush-era detention and interrogation program is replete with lurid details of what would commonly be called torture, if those practices were carried out on you or me.

Waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation, coffin-size cells and forcing detainees to stand in stress positions, even with broken bones, is the stuff of a horror movie. But there is another revelation in the long-awaited, and controversial, Senate committee report that so far seems to have slipped past much examination in the public spotlight.

The Senate report makes clear that CIA officials attempted to play the media like a fiddle by selectively releasing classified information about the detention and interrogation program.

“The CIA manipulated rules on classified information to serve its own interests,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said. “And the Senate report cites several examples of that.”

In fact, one of the findings of the report is quite blunt on that front:

“The CIA's Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA' s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA's … authorities and budget. These disclosures occurred when the program was a classified covert action program.”

This finding is troubling in light of the ongoing efforts to prosecute well-known whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden of NSA-leak fame, and some half dozen others in separate cases, all of whom could face (or are facing) years in prison for allegedly disclosing classified information to the media. To be sure, there are nuances in each of the cases and the comparison is not perfect, but at the heart of it all is a set of rules on the release of classified information that are marked with double standards.

“If you have no security clearance, and there is not a need to know, then you’re not supposed to get classified information,” Aftergood said. “The Senate committee found that CIA officials leaked classified information [to the media] and no further investigation was conducted.”

The Senate report describes the practice as follows:

“In seeking to shape press reporting on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, CIA officers and the CIA's Office of Public Affairs (OPA) provided unattributed background information on the program to journalists for books, articles, and broadcasts, including when the existence of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was still classified. When the journalists to whom the CIA had provided background information published classified information, the CIA did not, as a matter of policy, submit crimes reports.”

One example illustrative of the practice, cited in the report, is found in correspondence penned by the deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center in 2005, as the torture program was beginning to unravel:

“We either get out and sell, or we get hammered, which has implications beyond the media. [C]ongress reads it, cuts our authorities. messes up our budget. …We either put out our story or we get eaten. [T]here is no middle ground.”

The same CIA officer explained to a colleague that "when the [Washington Post]/[New York T]imes quotes ‘senior intelligence official,’ it’s us ... authorized and directed by opa [CIA's Office of Public Affairs].”

And much of the information leaked to the media via these authorized leaks “on the operation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program and the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques was inaccurate…,” the Senate report states.

So, in essence, the CIA operated as a propaganda machine, utilizing classified information as part of a larger effort to deceive the American public about the shortcomings of its torture program, if the Senate report is to be believed. Now, none of this is really new in the big picture of how the government and the media work with respect to classified information. The simple rule to remember is that the higher up in the government the leaker is, the less risk they face.

As far back as 1974, politicians were pointing out this basic flaw in the system. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released last year touches on the reality:

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

NarcoNews: US Military’s Training of Mexican Security Forces Continues as Human-Rights Abuses Mount in Mexico

DoD Officials Claim Training is Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

By Bill Conroy

The U.S. government has spent more than $62 million since fiscal year 2010 providing highly specialized training to Mexican security forces, including some $16.3 million in fiscal 2013, as part of an effort to help Mexico better prosecute its war on drugs, records made public under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act show.

The spending has continued even as Mexico’s military and police forces continue to face accusations of pervasive human-rights abuses committed against Mexican citizens, leading some experts to question whether the U.S.-funded training is resulting in some deadly unintended consequences.

The news of the disappearance in late September of 43 students who attended a rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa, located in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, has sparked massive protests in Mexico. The students were allegedly turned over to a criminal gang after being abducted by Mexican police and they remain missing. The police fired on the three buses transporting the students along a stretch of road near Iguala, about 130 kilometers north of Ayotiznapa, and the abduction was carried out near a Mexican military base, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Ayotzinapa incident was preceded by a lesser-known attack this past June during which Mexican soldiers killed 22 people inside a warehouse in Tlatlaya, 238 kilometers southwest of Mexico City. At least 12 of those homicides were deemed extrajudicial executions, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission[CNDH in its Spanish initials].

Last year, the Mexican government conceded that at least 26,000 people had gone missing, or been disappeared, in Mexico since 2006 — the year the war on the “cartels” in that nation was launched. Over that same period, INEGI (the Mexican State Statistics Agency) reports, there were some 155,000 homicides in Mexico, most with a nexus to the drug war.

The U.S. Department of Defense insists that the relationship it has with Mexican security forces is based on “trust and confidence and mutual respect” and is critical to helping to reduce the violence sparked by criminal organizations in Mexico.

The U.S. training, funded through the DoD and to a lesser extent the U.S. Department of State, encompasses a wide range of military strategy and tactics and is carried out at locations in the United States and inside Mexico. Among the course topics on the menu are asymmetrical conflict, counter intelligence, international counterterrorism, psychological operations, counter-drug operations and urban operations. The training is being provided to a broad spectrum of Mexican security forces, including the Army, Navy and the federal police, according to data provided to Congress under the requirements of the Foreign Assistance Act and is current through fiscal year 2013.

Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy with the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization promoting human rights and democracy in Latin America, says there is a lack of reliable public data on the fate of Mexican security forces after they receive U.S. military training.

“What happens to these trainees a year or two down the road after they are placed in areas dominated by organized crime?” Isacson asks. “We simply don’t have good after-training tacking of these people, and the amount they are paid can’t compete with the drug money. Plus, the risk of getting caught is small. The biggest risk for them isn’t jail, but rather running afoul of the drug organizations.”

From fiscal 2010 through 2013, U.S. military training was provided to some 8,300 members of Mexico’s security forces, according to Foreign Assistance Act data. That training is overseen by U.S Northern Command (Northcom), a Department of Defense branch created in 2002 that is responsible for U.S. homeland defense as well as security cooperation efforts with the Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.

Northcom officials contend that all Mexican security forces receiving U.S. training are well vetted and that data is maintained on all participants. The training is designed to compliment Mexico’s existing efforts to maintain security and stability in the country.

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

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

De-Manufacturing Consent- What It Means to Be an Authentic Journalist

Guillermo Jimenez Presents Journalist Bill Conroy

On this edition of De-Manufacturing Consent: Guillermo is joined by Bill Conroy, writer and investigative reporter for Narco News. For the last 10 years, Conroy has led a "double life" as a journalist — editor-in-chief of a conservative business journal in San Antonio, Texas, by day, and investigative reporter on the drug war beat for Narco News by night. Today, Conroy shares his story of a 20-year career in journalism, why he started writing for Narco News, why he resigned his position at the San Antonio Business Journal, his relationship with Gary Webb, and what it means to be an "authentic journalist."

We also discuss Conroy's latest article and how US counter-narcotics operations in Central America have led to a mass exodus of child refugees and caused the ensuing "immigration crisis" in the United States.

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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

Mayan Jaguar: US-Sponsored Drug-Plane Operation Had Global Reach

Aircraft Linked to “Mayan Jaguar” Flew Tons of Cocaine into Africa — Gateway to the European Market

US government intelligence agencies, in particular, the CIA, often have been accused of complicity in the drug trade, but public officials and the mainstream media just as quickly dismiss the allegations as whacky conspiracy theories — often with just cause.

Still, some cases defy explanations that rely on putting the blame on a few “bad apples.” In those cases, if it is not official US government complicity in the drug trade at work, then there seems to be at least some very deep-seated corruption and agency dysfunction in play.

The ongoing investigation into the Gulfstream II jet that crashed in Mexico in the fall of 2007 with a cargo of 3.7 tons of cocaine onboard appears to be an example of a case that points to a deeper corruption problem within the US bureaucracy.

That jet was part of a long-running US covert operation, called Mayan Jaguar, that involved the sale of dozens of aircraft to Latin American narco-trafficking organizations, court records recently revealed.

It now appears, based on a Narco News investigation, that a number of the jets sold through Mayan Jaguar or related parties may have been used to move tons of cocaine into the European market, via Africa, despite the fact that some of these aircraft were supposedly being monitored and tracked by the US law enforcers and/or intelligence agents overseeing Mayan Jaguar.

Media reports as well European investigators have connected the Gulfstream II jet, via its tail number, N987SA, to past use by the CIA, including alleged flights from 2001 to 2005 between the United States, Europe and Guantanamo Bay, home to the infamous prison camp for targets of the so-called War on Terror.

The Gulfstream II jet was sold twice between Aug. 31, 2007, and Sept. 24, 2007 — the date of its crash landing in Mexico’ s Yucatan Peninsula with a payload of cocaine.

Two Florida companies involved in those sales have been called out in federal court pleadings that allege the Gulfstream jet was part of a bizarre Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) undercover operation carried out in Latin America (Mayan Jaguar) — which netted no arrests or indictments in the US over the four years or so that it was reportedly officially in motion. The plug was pulled on the operation, US prosecutors now claim, with the crash of the Gulfstream II in Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General allegedly is investigating two ICE agents who were part of Mayan Jaguar, federal court pleadings filed in Florida indicate. The investigation is focused on suspected unlawful activity related to the Mayan Jaguar operation.

However, multiple law-enforcement sources who spoke with Narco News say an operation like Mayan Jaguar would have required a number of high-level approvals and ongoing oversight, not only from ICE and Department of Homeland Security officials, but also from officials at the Department of Justice and the State Department — including the US ambassadors in the affected nations.

Mayan Jaguar’s lack of law-enforcement success over four years, despite all of that oversight, led those same law enforcers to conclude that the true purpose of Mayan Jaguar was not to gather evidence to make arrests or pursue indictments. Instead, they suggest that ICE’s Mayan Jaguar could well have been a CIA cover operation utilizing multiple front companies to penetrate narco-trafficking organizations with the goal of gathering intelligence and recruiting assets — all aimed at advancing US interests deemed vital to the intelligence community.

That’s a serious charge, but not one that is out of the realm of possibility, stresses one long-time federal drug agent, who spoke with Narco News on background:

Remember, it's all about the intel. Morality, legality and even good sense are suspended in favor of gathering intel.

American's intel agencies want to know where the drugs go, to whom and then where they are distributed. The result is a great trafficking-pattern wall chart. They use the intel to generate more intel upon which they likewise do not act.

The intel agencies sometimes approach those who are profiting [from the drug trade], remind them that they (the intel agencies) set up the opportunity for them to make the big money and then ask them for a payback in the form of more intel.

Breaking It Down

The strategy employed in Mayan Jaguar, according to the court pleadings revealing its existence, was to place transponders on aircraft sold to Latin American drug smuggling organizations via an ICE front company — also identified in the court filings as Donna Blue Aircraft Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla.

Along with Donna Blue, two other Florida companies have popped up in federal court filings accused of brokering aircraft sales for individuals in Latin America that US prosecutors now allege are connected to narco-trafficking groups. And these three companies, all based in Florida, are connected to each other through various business and personal threads that are exposed in court filings and other public records.

Let’s break it down: A company called World Jet Inc. of Fort Lauderdale brokered the sale of the Gulfstream II jet in late August 2007 to the ICE front company Donna Blue, owned by an ICE informant named Joao Malago, who is a longtime business associate of Larry Peters, owner of Skyway Aircraft Inc. of St. Petersburg.

“Mr. Malago and Mr. Peters were both involved together in a transaction that resulted in their — Mr. Malago being stopped by ICE in 2004. He was carrying an excessive amount of money that could not be explained or justified at the time. It didn’t have — it ended up being seized and Mr. Malago became a CI [confidential informant] for ICE back in 2004,” states federal prosecutor Andrea Hoffman in a criminal case now pending in US District Court in Florida.

Donna Blue, a few weeks after acquiring the Gulfstream II via a World Jet-brokered sale, turned around and sold it to a Florida duo that included a pilot named Gregory Smith, whom, court records reveal, also works for World Jet as a contract pilot and who has done past work for US government agencies (possibly even the CIA) as a contract pilot.

In fact, in the late 1990s, Smith’s Fort Lauderdale-based company at the time, Aero Group Jets Inc., leased a Hawker jet to a longtime CIA asset named Baruch Vega. That jet was used for a joint DEA/FBI/CIA operation targeting Colombian narco-trafficking groups [link here, see pages 3 and 16]. That same Hawker jet, FAA records show, was later purchased by Clyde O’Connor — Smith’s partner in the 2007 Gulfstream II purchase.

Within days of Smith and his partner, O’Connor, acquiring the Gulfstream II from the ICE front company Donna Blue as part of Mayan Jaguar, it crash lands (on Sept. 24, 2007) in Mexico with nearly four tons of cocaine onboard.

Mayan Jaguar, over a four-year period, facilitated dozens of aircraft sales similar to the Gulfstream II deal, with the planes being sold to suspected Latin American drug smugglers, yet no arrests or indictments were made in the US, prosecutors claim, and the planes sold to alleged narco-traffickers as part of the operation are, for the most part, still unaccounted for — other than those which, like the Gulfstream II, happened to crash or were otherwise apprehended in countries outside the US.

And many of these so-called “cocaine planes” that were sold via Mayan Jaguar, according to court pleadings, were being tracked through transponders placed on the aircraft, which means US officials involved with Mayan Jaguar presumably knew where the aircraft were at any given time after they were sold to the narco-trafficking organizations.

Catching the Jaguar

The key to unraveling the true purpose of Mayan Jaguar, then, involves finding out where the planes sold through the operation ultimately landed. The available information from court pleadings involving Skyway Aircraft, Donna Blue and World Jet — all three arguably touched by Mayan Jaguar — helps to paint a bit of that picture.

Federal court pleadings filed in separate cases in Colorado and Florida allege that the owners of World Jet as well as Malago, owner of Donna Blue, engaged in a narco-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy by selling planes to suspected drug smugglers. World Jet officials and the now-former ICE informant Malago contend those charges have no merit — with Malago asserting that he was either acting within the law or with the approval of the US government as an ICE informant.

Peters, Skyway Aircraft’s owner, has not been charged or accused of a crime in relation to the aircraft sales, but court records indicate that he has “cooperated extensively with the United States government.”

The court pleadings and Federal Aviation Administration records show that most of the jets sold by the three Florida aviation companies went to buyers in Latin America — a high number of them to purchasers in Venezuela. From there, several of the aircraft have surfaced elsewhere in Latin America.

First, there is the Gulfstream II cocaine jet that crashed in Mexico in 2007 — sold to World Jet/US government contract pilot Smith by the ICE front company Donna Blue. Although it doesn’t have a known Venezuelan connection, as mentioned previously, its tail number, N987SA, is linked to past CIA use.

Yet another cocaine plane, this one sold by Larry Peters’ Skyway Aircraft to a Venezuelan buyer, was apprehended in Nicaragua in 2004. It too has a CIA connection…

Read the complete report here @ NarcoNews by Bill Conroy: Click Here

NarcoNews-Was “Mayan Jaguar” a Corrupt Undercover Op or a CIA Cover?

ICE Investigation Targeting Drug Planes Plagued by Scandal, Court Records Show

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) undercover operation involving the sale and tracking of aircraft to drug organizations played out for nearly four years in Latin America, likely allowing tons of narcotics to be flown into the US, yet it failed to result in a single prosecution in the United States, according to federal court pleadings recently discovered by Narco News.

The ICE undercover operation, dubbed Mayan Jaguar, came to a screeching halt when one of the aircraft in its sights, a Gulfstream II corporate jet, crashed on Sept. 24, 2007, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with nearly 4 tons of cocaine onboard. Also on that jet at the time, according to recently discovered pleadings filed in US District Court in Florida, was an ICE transponder, which was being used as a tracking device.

The court pleadings are part of a case currently pending against a Brazilian national named Joao Luiz Malago, who is facing narco-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy charges related to an indictment filed originally in January 2012.

The presence of the tracking device on the ill-fated Gulfstream II, the court records allege, alerted Mexican authorities to the fact that the cocaine jet was on some kind of US government-sponsored mission prior to its demise. Also pointing to that fact was the Gulfstream jet’s tail number, N987SA, which past press reports have linked to CIA use — several flights between 2003 and 2005 to Guantanamo Bay, home to the infamous “terrorist” prison camp.

The court pleadings also assert that Malago was, in fact, a US government informant, who operated an alleged ICE front company called Donna Blue Aircraft Inc., which was set up in March 2007 in Florida, some seven months before it was used to sell the Gulfstream II jet to a Florida duo: Clyde O’Connor and Gregory Smith.

O’Connor and Smith purchased the jet, according to a bill of sale, a mere eight days before it crashed in Mexico with its cocaine payload onboard.

Narco News reported on the Gulfstream II jet crash and its aftermath extensively and has uncovered documents and sources indicating that Gregory Smith worked as a contract pilot for the US government, including US Customs (later rolled into ICE, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS), DEA, FBI and likely CIA.

A Narco News story published in December 2007 also revealed that the Gulfstream II jet was part of a shadowy ICE undercover operation called Mayan Express that sources claimed was “badly flawed … because it [was] being carried out unilaterally, (Rambo-style), by ICE and without the knowledge of the Mexican government” or the participation of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Those same sources recently confirmed for Narco News that Mayan Express and ICE’s Mayan Jaguar are one and the same.

The Informant

Malago began cooperating with ICE in 2004, the prosecution alleges in court pleadings, after being “stopped by ICE” in the US “carrying an excessive amount of money that could not be explained or justified….” He worked with ICE as the key confidential informant, or CI, for Mayan Jaguar until sometime between the spring of 2007 and the end of 2008 — a point of contention in the litigation between the prosecution and defense.

Malago’s attorneys claim his role in the undercover operation was to place “transponders on planes” that were sold to suspected narco-trafficking groups via a series of ICE front companies, the initial one called Tropical Air — later replaced, in March 2007, by Donna Blue Aircraft. In June 2008, Florida corporation records show, Donna Blue’s name was changed to North Atlantic Aircraft Services Corp. — with Malago listed as president.

Mayan Jaguar, however, was exposed, at least to Mexican officials — who had been kept in the dark about it — once the Gulfstream II jet collided with the Earth in the Yucatan in the fall of 2007.

“All of that [the US government’s role] came to a head when a plane [the Gulfstream II] crashed in Mexico carrying 3.5 tons of cocaine in September of 2007,” Frank Quintero, one of Malago’s attorneys, alleges in court pleadings filed in federal court in Florida. “…That plane crashed with the transponder that was placed on the plane by Mr. Malago.

“So when the Mexican Government called and said, 'Why is there a plane with the ICE transponder or United States Government transponder on our territory,' nobody would give any answers. It hit the fan, and they [ICE] shut down operation Mayan Jaguar.”

At that point, Malago’s attorneys allege in court pleadings, ICE agents met with Malago in Brazil and urged him to move his family to the US because his cover had been blown and his life was in danger — since his role as an informant had been exposed due to the Gulfstream II’s crash.

“ICE told him, ‘It is dangerous for you. You need to move your family up here.’ He moved his entire family up here [to Florida] and they continued to ask him to cooperate, and he continued to provide information and transactional details on every plane that he did [brokered or sold] to ICE up to the beginning or the end of 2008,” Britney B. Horstman, another attorney representing Malago, alleges in the court pleadings.

Malago, the court pleadings indicate further, is now seeking asylum in the US because he is facing the threat of deportation — ironically at the hands of the same agency, DHS, for which he worked as an informant. (Another ICE informant, in the infamous House of Death case, met with a similar fate, facing the threat of deportation after his participation in murders in Juarez, Mexico, while on ICE’s payroll, was exposed due to the near-assassination of a DEA agent and his family. See link.

“If he [Malago] goes back to Brazil, he will surely be killed,” Mycki L. Ratzan, an attorney for Malago, contends in court pleadings. “…Certainly if his cooperation was known, that he was assisting the [US] government putting transponders on planes that he was selling to individuals in South America, and those planes turned out to have narcotics, and that they were seized, I don’t think that those individuals would take kindly to that sort of cooperation.”

Malago’s attorneys also allege that the DHS Office of Inspector General is investigating two ICE agents who worked with Malago while he was an informant. The attorneys contend the investigation is focused on corrupt practices related to the Mayan Jaguar operation.

From court pleadings by Malago attorney Ratzan: …

Read the entire investigative story by Bill Conroy here @ NarcoNews: here

NarcoNews Reports-Mexican President Peña Nieto Enlists US-based PR Firm

APCO’s Contract Calls for Conducting Opinion Research on “Americans’ Perceptions of Mexico”

By Bill Conroy

The administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is once again employing the services of a U.S.-based public relations firm with a controversial history.

Documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that Washington, D.C.-based APCO Worldwide Inc. has been retained by the “Office of the President of the Republic of Mexico (through NODO Research)” to provide “opinion research services in the United States for the foreign principal [Peña Nieto] for a fee of approximately $46,850 - $50,150 plus reimbursement for expenses.” [Read more...]

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...]