Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Observer: ICE Agents recorded their informant committing 13 murders, Left him on the payroll

Today Glenn Greenwald recommends this article from the British newspaper The Observer.

To summarize the facts, I cut and pasted from Greenwald's narrative below...

- "Although the subject of the investigation (the U.S. Government's conduct as part of its "war on drugs") receives little attention in the U.S., the incident reported by the Observer powerfully highlights exactly what the Bush administration is and how its "Homeland Security" Department operates."

- "In 2000, agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE)... recruited Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, known as "Lalo," to work as an informant for ICE as part of its investigation into a Mexican drug cartel... and they paid "Lalo" more than $220,000 to work as a spy for them, including the wearing of a wire."

- "In August, 2003, Lalo's cartel boss ordered him to participate in the murder of a Mexican lawyer. Lalo participated in the murder -- which was extremely brutal -- while wearing the wire supplied to him by ICE. "

- "After the initial murder, the ICE agents sought permission to continue using Lalo as their informant. Permission was given by high-level Justice Department officials in both Texas and Washington, including several Texans who are very close associates of both George Bush and Alberto Gonzales..."

- "Permission was given by Homeland Security and the DOJ to continue to work with Lalo. Over the course of the next six months, Lalo directly participated in the murder of 13 different Mexicans, usually extremely brutal murders, and all with the knowledge of ICE. Despite one murder after the next being perpetrated by their paid informant, they never intervened.

- "On January 14, 2004, Lalo kidnapped Luis Padilla in El Paso, Texas, drove him across the Mexican border, and then murdered him along with two other Mexicans, all while wearing an ICE wire. It was later revealed that Padilla -- who had lived in the U.S. (legally) since childhood and at the time with living (legally) in Texas with his wife and three children -- had nothing to do with any cartels and was abducted by Lalo as a matter of mistaken identity.

- "[A]round the same time, members of Lalo's cartel-- the cartel which ICE knowingly allowed to go on murdering -- went to the home of an undercover DEA agent in order to kill him (they obtained his identity and home address by torturing an informant). The DEA agent barely escaped with his wife and daughters, through sheer luck.

- The DEA had not known about ICE's ongoing work with Lalo. They thought, naturally, that ICE severed its connection to him once he began murdering people while wearing an ICE wire. But after the DEA's agent and immediate family were almost murdered by the cartel, they found out that ICE was still working with Lalo and they reacted with extreme anger.

- "Once the DEA's Gonzalez put these accusations in writing, the Bush Justice Department responded boldly and vigorously . . . by attacking, threatening and ultimately forcing the retirement of the DEA's Gonzales -- the whistleblower who brought this to light -- for the crime of complaining about it and putting it in writing, thereby risking discovery of what ICE had done (with the permission of the DOJ). Not only was no action taken against the perpetrators, but they were actively protected."

As Greenwald notes, the whole article truly needs to be read, but here is an excerpt...

"Janet Padilla's first inkling that something might be wrong came when she phoned her husband at lunchtime. His mobile phone was switched off. On 14 January, 2004, Luis had, as usual, left for work at 6am, and when he did not answer the first call Janet made, after taking the children to school, she assumed he was busy. Two weeks later she would learn the truth.
'It was love at first sight for Luis and me, and that's how it stayed, after two years dating at school and eight years of marriage,' says Janet. 'We always spoke a couple of times during the day and he always kept his phone on. So I called my dad, who owns the truckyard where he worked and he told me, "he hasn't been here". I called my in-laws and they hadn't seen him either, and they were already worried because his car was outside their house with the windows open and the keys in the ignition. He would never normally leave it like that.'

"Luis Padilla, 29, father of three, had been kidnapped, driven across the Mexican border from El Paso, Texas, to a house in Ciudad Juarez, the lawless city ruled by drug lords that lies across the Rio Grande. As his wife tried frantically to locate him, he was being stripped, tortured and buried in a mass grave in the garden - what the people of Juarez call a narco-fossa, a narco-smugglers' tomb.
Just another casualty of Mexico's drug wars? Perhaps. But Padilla had no connection with the drugs trade; he seems to have been the victim of a case of mistaken identity.

"Now, as a result of documents disclosed in three separate court cases, it is becoming clear that his murder, along with at least 11 further brutal killings, at the Juarez 'House of Death', is part of a gruesome scandal, a web of connivance and cover-up stretching from the wild Texas borderland to top Washington officials close to President Bush."

Will we see the story on the news tonight, or is news of government agents doing nothing while an informant repeatedly murders people, while wearing a wire, not enough to draw national media attention?

Will Olbermann take notice? You can comment on his website by clicking here.

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