Sources offer new tip in Bogotá DEA corruption case

A memo drafted by Department of Justice attorney Thomas M. Kent alleging major corruption in the Bogotá, Colombia, office of the Drug Enforcement Administration has caused a bit of a stir in the mainstream media over the past few days.

The internal Justice Department document, drafted in December 2004, alleges that DEA agents in Bogotá are on the payroll of narco-traffickers, engaged in money laundering for right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia and also conspired to murder informants. The document also alleges that two government watchdog agencies — the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) — whitewashed an internal investigation into the corruption charges.

So as the mainstream pack journalism heats up in the wake of Narco News’ exclusive report on the memo and corruption allegations, it seems appropriate to throw some more raw meat into the field for the hungry media wolves. Setting the table

One of the allegations in the Kent memo is that DEA agents in Bogota were on the payroll of a narco-trafficker. This came to light after an informant for a group of Miami DEA agents was faxed a document that contained internal agency information revealing that he was snitching on the FARC (Spanish initials for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the largest leftist insurgent group in that country’s civil war, accused by U.S. officials of drug and arms trafficking).

From the Narco News story:

In other words, someone outed the Florida group’s informant, making him into a target for many dangerous people including the FARC guerrillas, and the tool used to expose him was proprietary DEA information that appeared to have come out of the Bogotá DEA office. The DEA agents in Florida looked further into the source of that information and followed the trail to several other DEA informants. The Florida agents then set up a wiretap and recorded conversations between their own informants and the other DEA informants who were tied to the leaked DEA information. The recordings revealed that a narco-trafficker had indeed obtained the internal DEA information that was used to expose the Florida group’s informant.

“That person (the narco-trafficker) is also a DEA informant,” the Kent memorandum states, “and is believed to have been controlled by the Bogotá Country Office. Among other things, it was alleged that the informant (the narco-trafficker) had several agents on his payroll who provided him with classified information. The agents were believed to work in Colombia and Washington, D.C.”

The Kent memo states that the narco-trafficker was later subjected to a polygraph by the DEA. That lie-detector test was conducted in Florida sometime between mid-2003 and mid-2004. In the memo, Kent simply writes that the narco-trafficker “passed the test.”

Narco News reported the event this way in its original story:

Kent says that the narco-trafficker passed the lie detector test in Florida, at which he was asked whether agents had passed him classified documents and he claimed that they hadn’t. But the (DEA’s) OPR mysteriously ordered the polygrapher not to report on the test: “He was instructed (to say) that the test never took place.”

Dinner is served

However, sources have since come forward to Narco News clarifying what actually happened with the lie-detector test. Rather than claiming that he had not been passed internal documents by DEA agents, the sources say the narco-trafficker actually admitted that he had received such documents.

In other words, the narco-trafficker “passed the test” because he did not “lie” about receiving confidential DEA documents.

That is why the polygrapher was told by a high-level OPR official not to report on the test, to say “that the test never took place.”

The polygrapher refused to follow that order, however, and actually did file a report on the test results with his immediate supervisor in the DEA’s polygraph program, sources tell Narco News. That means, in all likelihood, that the polygrapher’s report still exists somewhere in the files of DEA or elsewhere, and would be more damning evidence of a cover-up if it surfaces.

“There is a DEA report on the results of that polygraph (on the narco-trafficker),” one source says. “Someone needs to get that document.”

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