Dallas Morning News breathlessly reports House of Death drug-war script

The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that the U.S. informant involved in the murder of a dozen people in Ciudad Juárez between August 2003 and January 2004, while under the watch of federal agents and a U.S. prosecutor, may soon be send back to Mexico.

From the story:

EL PASO – U.S. officials soon are expected to extradite to Mexico a controversial figure who took part in several killings for a Mexican drug cartel while working as a U.S.-paid informant, said government sources familiar with the case.

Guillermo Eduardo Ramírez Peyro, a.k.a. "Lalo," lost a bid to seek asylum and faces extradition, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The extradition would end the U.S. government's relationship with a man who once provided valuable intelligence on Mexico's Juárez cartel and its murky operations, but who also is accused of participating in a number of cartel-ordered assassinations, including the killing of a U.S. citizen.

You could stop reading the story right there, because from that point on everything is a rehash of news already reported previously by Narco News. Curiously, this is the first story the Dallas Morning News has published about the House of Death since last year, based on a search of the paper's online archives.

The most recent story prior to the current Lalo article that appeared in the mainstream Texas paper purports to break the news about a whistleblower memo written by former DEA El Paso chief Sandalio Gonzalez.

In a story the newspaper's archives show as published on March 29, 2005, The Dallas Morning News boldly takes credit for seemingly uncovering  Gonzalez’ memo:

From that story:

EL PASO – In a newly released letter, a senior U.S. law enforcement official blasts a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its handling of a paid informant involved in a series of drug-related killings on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The letter, written by Sandalio González, a 32-year law enforcement veteran who was then special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's El Paso office, accuses agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and a U.S. prosecutor of obstructing justice and endangering the lives of American agents.

The letter, dated Feb. 24, 2004, corroborates information about the case first reported in The Dallas Morning News more than a year ago. The newspaper reported that a man identified as Lalo had participated in a series of killings for a Mexican drug cartel while working as a paid informant for ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Notice the date of the Dallas Morning News’ story -- March 29, 2005. (The actual story available on the Internet shows a publication date of May 20, 2005. I guess the paper's stories get a new publication date once they are put online? )

Anyway, there is no mention in the story about how Gonzalez’ letter was mysteriously “revealed.”

Well, here’s a clue.

Narco News obtained that memo exclusively through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and published the unredacted text of the letter online on March 23, and 11 days later put the actual document online.

So you have to wonder just how the Dallas Morning News came upon Gonzalez’ memo, don’t you? Maybe they went through the arduous process of obtaining the memo through FOIA themselves, just so they could avoid crediting Narco News?

Well, that’s par for the course. It’s tough for a mainstream media outlet to admit it got beat by the feisty underdog. So sometimes it’s easier to make it appear they got the story first to avoid being honest about who really “revealed” the information.

In any event, the current story by the Dallas Morning News about the informant Lalo supposedly being extradited to Mexico is not really the important news it is set up to be in that newspaper’s predictable drug-war script. ICE officials have long hinted to Narco News that Lalo was deemed a loose end who needs to be cut from the picture to assure the cover-up in this case does not unravel. Extraditing Lalo to Mexico, where he is certain to be killed by the narcos he double crossed, serves just that purpose.

The Dallas Morning News, in its eagerness to pound its chest in “breaking” news on the story, neglects to mention anything in its recent story about the cover-up of the U.S. government’s complicity in the murders in Juarez, which Narco News has shown, with documentation, reaches to the upper levels of the Justice Department.

But then, the Dallas Morning News would have to credit Narco News for that revelation and admit they dropped the ball in pursuing the cover-up angle on the story. Or maybe they have other reasons for avoiding a confrontation with powerful sources inside the Justice Department whom they depend on for getting scoops and access in generating their ongoing script for the so-called drug war.

Instead, the Dallas Morning News is content to blindly report the “facts” devoid of context, not realizing, or maybe not caring, that the newspaper likely got played by someone who wants Lalo dead. Because by broadcasting the fact that Lalo is about to be extradited, without also exposing the players behind the cover-up who benefit from that move, they just sent up a bright flare to everyone who has an interest in cutting the informant’s throat -- that they should be on the lookout for Lalo’s arrival in Mexico soon.

Apparently, for the Dallas Morning News, it’s important to look like you got the story first, because that somehow makes you feel more important in the mainstream media business -- even if the bigger truth of the story is obscured in the process.


Dishonest vs. authentic journos

It seems that republishing Bill Conroy’s work in Narco News and claiming it as one’s own is becoming quite the rage among commercial journalists. This comes after a long history of the Dallas Morning News going out of its way to ignore Bill’s work on the House of Death, despite the fact that nearly every major revelation in the case has appeared first in these pages, with his byline.

And of course, this comes less than two months after Semana magazine, the most widely read newsmagazine in Colombia, slapped a graphic on its cover screaming “Corruption in the DEA,”  with a corresponding story based completely on the Kent memorandum brought to light by Bill’s hard work, without ever mentioning where they got a copy of said memo.

Interestingly enough, Gerardo Reyes — who with his recent work in the Miami-based Spanish-language Nuevo Herald has been perhaps the only other journalist to take Bill’s lead and do his own investigation to try to uncover more of the mystery — did not hesitate to give credit where it was due. I suppose that’s to be expected, though; authentic journalists who are actually interested in working to reveal the truth help each other and recognize each others work, while career hacks only interested in prestige and a paycheck profit off the hard and often dangerous work of others any way they can.

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