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And we thought Fast and Furious was bad.....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tulianr, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    U.S. Visas Helped Fuel the Juárez Drug Wars
    EXCERPTS: (The full article is well worth the read)

    The ICE informants didn’t just go ‘sideways’ in Ciudad Juárez, they shipped drugs and waged a savage war with U.S. help.

    In the Mexican border city of Juárez the question persists: What kind of involvement did the United States government have, or not, with the turf war between drug cartels that claimed thousands of lives only a short drive across the Rio Grande from El Paso? Three years after the worst of the carnage, details about the U.S. role gradually are beginning to surface.

    When agents of the U.S. Federal Government try to penetrate the underworld along the Mexican frontier, the risks are high that, while they’re investigating it, they'll get sucked into it. In the so-called “Fast and Furious” Affair exposed in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) wound up helping the cartels build their substantial arsenals.

    But gun-trafficking is not where the story ends. There are numerous allegations that federal agencies fighting the drug trade have, in fact, facilitated the trafficking by certain cartels. And worse: that they took sides in their wars, helping one cartel against another in an orgy of bloodletting. In Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from 2007 to 2010 the number of murders jumped from 300 to more than 3,000. That was precisely the time period in which collaboration between at least one federal agency and one cartel in the Juárez wars was at its closest.

    “Get sideways” is cop slang for breaking the law. It is most commonly applied to informants who want to have the thing both ways.

    One sideways example: The son of another Sinaloa kingpin made headlines alleging in court in Chicago that his father’s cartel received “carte blanche” from the United States government to continue to smuggle illegal cocaine by the ton into the country. U.S. officials denied this.

    There is in fact substantial evidence and testimony suggesting that the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facilitated major drug shipments by its informers in Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel in 2007 and 2008 by giving them visas for easy entry to the United States.

    This was at a time when El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel was mounting an all-out offensive to take over the territory of the Juárez cartel near El Paso. And the deadly consequences of that de facto collaboration between a U.S. government agency and a cartel kingpin can be felt on the border to this day.

    In February, a former hit man for the Juárez cartel testified that he had coordinated the assassinations of three individuals linked to the U.S. consulate in Juárez in 2010 as retribution for favorable treatment to its enemies in the Sinaloa cartel. He said the Juárez cartel noticed that its enemies were able to sell cocaine at an usually low price in El Paso, and suspected the reason was that someone in the consulate was giving away visas to enable members of the Sinaloa cartel to move drugs more easily into the country. In April, a whistleblower from the U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security told Newsweek magazine he suspected a top regional security officer in the Juárez consulate of making improper visa referrals that put consular employees in danger of violent reprisals.

    For two decades, the Juárez cartel controlled the movement of drugs in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua near the Texas and New Mexico borders. To hear locals tell it, the cartel maintained order over the law itself—over the army, the police, the federal agencies, the state and the city. And one of the Juárez kingmakers was an ex-cop turned businessman named Julio Porras.

    Porras owned a currency exchange and a construction company. People say he owned a stake in a bar called The Boiler. They found out later he was publisher of the magazine Two Faces. His criminal associates knew him as Old Timer and they say he was once the key link between the Juárez cartel and the high command of the state police in Chihuahua.

    But in 2006 Porras made a near-fatal strategic mistake. El Chapo Guzmán's men wanted to control as much of the border traffic as they could. Simple geography suggests their problem. Their base of operations in Sinaloa was on the sea, which was useful for smuggling, but they were nowhere near the U.S. market. So they started moving in on the Juárez “plaza,” as the drug corridors are called. Porras looked at the situation and advised the boss of the Juárez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias The Viceroy, to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

    But no diplomatic solution would be forthcoming. Shortly after Porras’ audience with El Viceroy, a team of 15 gunmen ambushed his security convoy as it pulled to a stop in front of his house. His driver and two state policemen he employed as bodyguards were killed. Porras escaped with a bullet wound in the left arm. Porras took off for El Paso. He bought a garage and he offered a refuge or sorts to a faction of the Juárez cartel that threw in its lot with El Chapo. They called themselves Gente Nueva, New People.

    As it happened, at just this time a special investigations group from the ICE in El Paso had started collecting information to target the Juárez cartel. Porras had plenty of that, and was happy to oblige. Criminal associates of his from the time have testified that El Chapo authorized his men to cooperate with the ICE’s program against the organization of El Viceroy.

    One of El Chapo’s operatives was José Esparza, the head of a drug distribution ring that moved cocaine, crystal meth and marijuana into the United Stated via El Paso. Porras recruited Esparza to be an ICE informant because he wanted “to bring people over that belonged to the cartel, so they can talk about Vicente Carrillo’s people,” Esparza testified at the trial of another former El Chapo lieutenant.

    Things quickly got sideways.

    At the time Esparza was an ICE informant, he was trafficking 1,600-pound loads of marijuana to customers in Detroit and Atlanta. He had recently hauled a 1,000-pound load of marijuana to Muskogee, Oklahoma, in a trailer filled with piñatas.

    It was understood—indeed, Esparanza said that Porras made it explicit—that Esparza wasn’t to tell the ICE agents about any of this, and they probably wouldn’t press him too hard. “What Julio Porras had told me, if they asked—ICE would ask me if I was moving dope, to tell them I was not moving anything,” Esparza explained to the court.

    In case Esparza missed the point, Porras hammered it home again when they got together at a Diamond Shamrock gas station in front of the ICE offices, right before Esparza was to meet with the agents. Esparza didn’t want to go to the meeting at all, but Porras insisted. It was vitally important, as it were, to make nice with ICE.

    If ICE was facilitating visas, El Paso would become in effect the strategic depth for El Chapo’s people in their war on The Viceroy and the Juárez Cartel.

    The El Chapo strategy was to take out the Mexican police commanders who protected The Viceroy in Juárez, according to Esparza. “Julio Porras was recruiting people to come over and talk to ICE, so they can get control of Juárez and start knocking off the commandantes,” Esparza testified.

    Two Mexican police captains and a commander were shot to death in Juárez within a 24-hour period on January 21 and 22, 2008. The killers used military-grade weapons and ammunition. Anonymous sources in the state government told El Diario de Juárez that the attacks were the work of El Chapo Guzmán.

    On January 26, 2008, a flowered wreath appeared at The Monument to the Fallen Policeman in Juárez, along with a message scrawled on white pasteboard: “For those who didn’t believe,” and a list of the murdered policemen. Below it was a second message, “For those who still won’t believe,” and the names of an additional 17 Juárez police officers.

    Porras and Esparza were only two of El Chapo’s men who entered the United States freely to meet with the ICE. The cartel men kept the phone numbers of ICE agents on their prepaid cellphones. Esparza recalled that they brought photographs and helped agents to identify the faces of the Juárez enemy. And all of the El Chapo informants were moving drugs into the United States at the time that they were meeting in person with the ICE’s team in El Paso, according to their testimony in a pivotal court case in 2010.

    The trial of Fernando Arambula, a top El Chapo lieutenant, exposed the relationship between the Sinaloa cartel and ICE to public view, even though few news organizations picked up on it at the time.

    Arambula represented himself as the information officer for El Chapo. Another informant, Jesus Manuel Fierro, referred to his and Arambula’s role as the cartel’s go-to people for ICE: “There were two of us who were like—like spokespersons. We were passing all the information. But this information we would, obviously, get from the levels high up.”

    At the same time, Arambula was having loads of marijuana that weighed 20 tons delivered by air and unloaded by a crew of 60 laborers at his ranch in Ascencion, Mexico, and a large estate in the border town of Palomas, Mexico. Arambula also had an office in Juárez where a dozen employees used a hydraulic press to package the marijuana into 10-pound bricks.

    ICE Special Agent Louie Gomez, who was Arambula’s handler, called him the most connected high-level trafficker he had ever known. A tip from Arambula in March 2007 netted the agency The Tiger of the Sierra, a wanted trafficker whose real name was Pedro Sanchez and who was, of course, an El Chapo rival.

    At least one of the informants for the ICE special investigations group had blood on his hands. Mario Nunez Meza, alias M10, alias Mayito, a former municipal police officer who became El Chapo’s plaza boss in Chihuahua and Durango. In Juárez, locals regard him as the commander of the ultra-violent Sinaloa offensive in their city.

    The Mexican Justice Department holds M10 responsible for 388 murders, and he has been linked to 23 mass graves discovered in his home state of Durango. He is wanted by Interpol and was indicted for drug trafficking in 2012 by the U.S. District Court of El Paso.

    M10 was captured last year during a raid by Chihuahua State Police on a stash house in Juárez. Police found bulletproof vests, ammunition, and 14 explosive devices made of the water-gel Tovex. A news report of his arrest described armored personnel carriers from the Mexican army standing guard outside the police station where he was being held for questioning.

    But in 2007 and 2008 M10 entered the United States freely to meet with the ICE, no questions asked, according to the ex-police captain, Fierro. “I don’t know how they did that,” Fierro testified.

    José De Jesus was the group supervisor for the ICE program that targeted the Juárez cartel in 2007 and 2008. He was promoted and transferred to ICE headquarters in Washington a year after the special investigation wrapped up. When Fernando Arambula’s case went to trial in March 2010, De Jesus was the highest-ranking ICE official to testify. But the ICE only consented to have him testify on the condition that he would not answer questions about the agency’s confidential-informant program.

    De Jesus testified at trial that ICE management in El Paso was supportive of how he handled the investigation. And he waltzed around the question of Arambula going sideways. He said ICE made it clear to Arambula that he could not engage in illegal activities while he was an informant for the agency: “We had other plans for Mr. Arambula, not only to work the Juárez cartel, but we wanted him to, in reality, work the Sinaloa cartel for us,” De Jesus testified.

    In a separate filing, Eskesen refers to a document attesting that the United States Attorney’s Office approved a benefit for Arambula to be able to move freely back and forth across the border, though he is not an American citizen, so he could better serve as an informant. She goes on to observe that the approval came from former Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Leachman, the wife of Russell Leachman, the lead prosecutor in Arambula’s trial in March 2010.

    On the witness stand, De Jesus downplayed the amount of cooperation his group ever received from Arambula. “We didn’t get to a point where he could actually help us in a major manner,” he said. “Yes, he did provide some information. Basically, during those times, we were just vetting him to see what type of information he had.”

    El Chapo was arrested by a special contingent of Mexican Marines in February. Although the carnage in the Juárez area has diminished, on May 25 two armed men entered the law office of the ex-president of the local bar association and gunned him down along with a municipal judge who was with him at the time. Border security analysts interpret the murders as a settling of old scores by the Juárez cartel, which has gained in strength and boldness and apparently intends to retake the territory it lost in the war with El Chapo and the ICE.

    U.S. Visas Helped Fuel the Juarez Drug Wars - The Daily Beast
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Meh....it seems like a cross between Air America....and US support of Bin Laden's Mujahidin operations against the Russkis....why do US Govt agencies dream up programs that bite the country back in the bum. Goodness knows how much collateral damage has been done to innocents outside of the drug cartels, without doing anything much to actually effectively stop the importation of drugs to the US.
    tulianr, Sapper John and ditch witch like this.
  3. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder Site Supporter+

    More of that enemy of my enemy is my friend bs the US is always getting into. You'd think eventually they'd realize that once the mutual enemy is out of the picture, the feeding hand promptly gets bit.
    tulianr and chelloveck like this.
  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    I read a Web comic (Schlock Mercenary) and I love the aphorisms they come up with. One of them is:
    "The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more, no less."

    The sooner our government figures that out, the sooner we can quit getting involved in crap like this.
  5. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    I'm hard pressed to think of any alternative leader / country we have chosen to support that hasn't come back to bite us in the behind.
    chelloveck likes this.
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