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
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 of 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.
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.
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.
On Aug. 6, 2012, four days after emailing prosecutor Skaret with his concerns about the consulate murders, Farrington was served with a fitness-for-duty examination order, which ultimately led to him temporarily losing his badge and gun as well as some pay and more than a little career standing. The order cited a couple of incidents in which Farrington supposedly lost his cool, but they were unrelated to Farrington’s investigation into the consulate murders.
However, a July 25, 2012, email sent by Farrington’s supervisor in Houston to various DS officials shows that there was an effort already afoot to subject him to a fitness-for-duty exam, seemingly to back him off the consulate murders investigation.
“We really need to get David [Farrington] checked out as soon as possible, as soon as he gets back from mil leave,” the email states. “He has been told several times to not interfere in this case [referring to the consulate murders].”
In response, Kimber Davidson, Chief of DS’ Special Investigations Division, fired of another email less than a half an hour later that included in the subject line: “Deliberative Process — Not For Disclosure Under FOIA"
“Have we done a FFDE [fitness-for-duty exam] for Farrington?,” Davidson writes in the email. “Is it warranted? Have you communicated with Dave in writing that he is not to be involved with this case? …”
Farrington also was presented with a “Counseling Memorandum” on Aug. 6, 2012, the same day the FFDE order was served on him. The memorandum informed him that he was “no longer part of the official investigation of the Juarez Murder Case” and that he should cease and desist from seeking “information regarding this case [from] outside agencies in an official capacity,” internal State Department documents submitted to Congress state.
And to assure there was no chance of Farrington’s investigative efforts ever seeing the light of day outside the bureaucracy, an email — also provided to Congress via Schulman — was sent out by DS Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Barry Moore to, among others, Grace T. Moe, DS director of public affairs. The email outlined a media plan designed to discredit Farrington should he decide to go public with his concerns about the investigation into the consulate murders.
From that email:
… David Farrington is on limited duty pending the results of his FFD [Fitness for Duty] evaluation. Even so he is threatening to make statements to the press related to the Ciudad Juarez murders. See the section that I highlighted in the email chain below. Doug and George Nutwell [Farrington’s supervisor in Houston] think that Farrington is capable of such a move [and] have cleared on the guidance below. I am hopeful that he does not but if he does I would suggest that our “if asked” guidance read something like:
It is the Department’s understanding that DS special agent David Farrington has made public statements alleging TO BE FILLED IN IF/WHEN HE MAKES A STATEMENT regarding the tragic attack on civilians in Ciudad Juarez in March of 2010. That case has been investigated by the Government of Mexico, the FBI and agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The Department lost one of our employees and her US Citizen husband in that attack and ensured that all investigative leads were followed. We are satisfied that Mexican authorities cooperated fully and the conviction in San Antonio of the gang leader [Gallegos, or “Guero”] ensured that justice was served.
Agent Farrington has been on limited duty since Monday August 6, 2012 and was not in an official capacity when he made those remarks. His beliefs are well known to agents of DS and the FBI but were not borne out in the trial.
The Last Blow
Finally, on Oct. 23, 2012, closed out of options at Diplomatic Security, Farrington brought his concerns to the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General — which is charged with investigating charges of government corruption. One of the key elements of its mission is to assure confidentiality for whistleblowers, such as Farrington, so they are not subjected to retaliation.
However, Dallas attorney Schulman, in his letter to Congress, reveals that Farrington’s communications with the DOJ-OIG, “including his email communications word for word, were delivered” to his bosses at DS.
The Oct. 23, 2012, email below was sent directly to DS Special Investigations Division Chief Davidson by a DOJ-OIG official:
This came across my desk this AM. We will not be taking any action on this, as we don’t have a dog in the fight. Appears the Criminal Division, USAO in EL Paso, and FBI are aware of the complainant [Farrington] and the issues he claims to have knowledge of. From the text, it looks like DS is aware of this individual as well....
Just an FYI.
Davidson, in turn, forwarded the email and Farrington’s attached communications (again, intended only for DOJ-OIG) to a number of other DS officials, including Farrington’s supervisor in Houston.
“This in from DOJ/OIG,” Davidson’s email reads. “It appears that David [Farrington] is continuing to send out information….”
Attorney Schulman, in his letter to Congress, denounces DOJ-OIG, saying its actions in the Farrington case further undermine the public’s already crumbling trust in their government. He also told Narco News that the agency’s actions might well represent a violation of Farrington’s privacy rights.
“The Office of Investigator General is mandated to maintain confidentiality. It is no wonder the American public and the federal employee are losing confidence in our Government,” Schulman writes in his letter to Congressional leaders. “Trust and confidentiality are essential to maintaining an Investigator General which is effective in their charged and mandated task of preventing and prosecuting fraud and waste. But what employee will provide the agency information if confidentiality is not maintained?”
So it seems the real motive behind the Juarez consulate murders, even some four years after that blood was shed, is destined to remain obscured by the fog of the drug war and the cold calculations of bureaucrats and prosecutors who deem pursuit of the truth an inconvenient detour for their career trajectories.
The harsh reality of that mindset, however, is that if passport and/or visa fraud did play a role in the 2010 consulate homicides in Juarez, the failure to properly investigate and stem that corruption can only leave the door open for more bloodshed down the line.
“It’s a sad statement on how things work, the fact that they went after the guy [Farrington] and destroyed his career, because his information was on track,” says one law enforcer familiar with the consulate-murders case — and who asked not to be identified due fear of retaliation.