Bill Conroy's Comments
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in San Antonio, Texas, announced earlier this week that his office cut a plea bargain with Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who U.S. prosecutors claim is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Juárez drug organization.
Santillan had been charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder. His case was slated to go to trial this May in federal district court in San Antonio.
The plea deal caps more than a year-long effort by federal prosecutors and ICE officials to keep a lid on the U.S. governments complicity in multiple murders in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez.
The memo, issued on March 28 by a high-ranking official with DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), essentially orders supervisors in the field to sanitize terrorism-related case files maintained in a major law-enforcement computer system called TECS. All told, TECS contains about 12,000 terrorism-related records, of which about 4,000 have been generated by ICE, according to the memo.
ICE supervisors, per the memos instructions, are to "modify or remove all ICE-generated TECS records designated as terrorist.
In other words, the memo instructs ICE supervisors to ensure that if they come across a goose in the game of find-the-terrorist, then they should call it a duck.
As a result, based on the memos instructions, existing records originated by ICE and deemed to be terror-related are to be purged from the TECS computer system by reclassifying them to make them appear to be unrelated to terrorism. The deadline for completing this 4,000-record sanitizing task is April 11, two weeks from the issue date of the memo.
The letter exposed federal agents complicity in multiple murders in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez. The homicides were tied to an investigation into Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who U.S. prosecutors claim is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Juárez drug organization.
Santillan has been charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder. His case is currently pending in federal district court in San Antonio, Texas, and is slated for trial in May.
The blowback came at him through a legal case he has pending against DEA. In 2002, Gonzalez filed a discrimination lawsuit against the agency in federal court in Miami. The case, which is still pending, stems from a stash of cocaine that came up missing after a 1998 raid of a house in suburban Miami.
Prior surveillance of the house indicated there should have been about 32 kilograms of cocaine on the premises, but the total amount accounted for after the search fell 10 kilos short of that mark.
Gonzalez suspected foul play. He says the same Miami-Dade Police team involved in the raid was responsible for compromising three prior drug cases.
Following is the list of government agencies who dont want you to know this secret, and which have to date, to one degree or another, contributed to keeping it covered up: The U.S. Attorneys Office in San Antonio, the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and at least two agencies charged with investigating corruption in federal law enforcement -- the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Justice Departments Office of Inspector General.
But before revealing the details of the secret, some background is in order. Last month, Narco News reported the following:
A startling claim has surfaced in a document filed in federal court by a former DEA supervisor. The claim raises serious questions about a U.S. Attorneys handling of evidence in the case of accused murderer and drug-trafficker Heriberto Santillan-Tabares.
The Federal Hispanic Law Enforcement Officers Association (FHLEOA) is now officially in Conrads corner. FHLEOA describes itself as a network of federal law enforcement professionals committed to finding positive and creative solutions to the challenges facing the federal Hispanic law enforcement community in the United States.
In an endorsement letter, send to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, FHLEOAs national president states the following:
Few in the media questioned the veracity of the warning. After all, if the government says its so, it must be so. But what do the numbers tell us?
If U.S. citizens are facing a greater risk to their safety along the border, shouldnt there be a way of measuring that increased risk, an accounting of the increase in murders, kidnappings and disappearances?
The State Department warning began as follows:
Former DEA agent Sandalio Gonzalez drops the bombshell on the U.S. Attorneys Office in San Antonio in one short paragraph tucked into the pleadings of an employment discrimination case he has pending against the Department of Justice.
Gonzalez, who, until his retirement last month, oversaw the DEAs El Paso field office, makes the following assertion in a motion filed earlier this week in federal district court in Miami:
On August 20, 2004, Defendant (the Department of Justice) continued to retaliate against Plaintiff (Gonzalez) for exercising his protected rights by issuing him a Performance Appraisal Record that was a downgrade from his previous outstanding appraisal due to Defendants unfounded allegations that Plaintiff exercised extremely poor judgment when Plaintiff issued a letter to the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), El Paso, Texas Field Office, and the Office of the United States Attorney (USAO), Western District of Texas, expressing his frustration and outrage at the mishandling of an informant in a drug investigation that resulted in several preventable murders in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and endangered the lives of DEA Special Agents and their families assigned to duty in Mexico.
Mexico is heading into a presidential election in 2006. A populist mayor out of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is emerging as a major contender. A rise in populism in Mexico is not in the interest of the Bush administration or Mexicos oligarch, so the powers that be have to smear the leading social-reform candidates while at the same time propping up the forces more in line with U.S. interests, neoliberal forces now aligned through the presidency of Vicente Fox.
However, since Fox is technically prohibited from seeking re-election in 2006 under the Mexican constitution, the Bush administrations task is a bit trickier, as they not only have to disable the emerging popularity of Mexicos grassroots democracy movement, but also manufacture a suitable neoliberal candidate.
Well, the smear campaign is well underway. Lopez Obrador is now facing the possibility of being barred for running for the presidency because of a plan afoot to charge him criminally over a minor land-use dispute something about building a road to a hospital over private property.
The hype resulted in the State Department issuing an advisory for U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico. The FBI also issued a bulletin which was leaked to the mainstream press advising law enforcers along the border of an alleged plan by narco-traffickers to kidnap and murder federal agents.
The nature of these bureaucratic warnings, however, is highly suspicious, given that narco-traffickers dont kidnap and murder innocent U.S. citizens unless there is money to be made, and there has been no sudden rash of ransom demands being made by drug organizations. And the FBI, only days after issuing its internal bulletin, admitted that the alleged kidnapping and murder scheme was not credible.
Narco News recently contacted the U.S. embassy in Mexico City asking for figures that would back up the State Departments claims that narco-traffickers are increasingly targeting U.S. citizens. Strangely, those figures could not be produced.
We dont have figures to respond to this question at this time, said Diana Page, assistant press attaché for the U.S. Embassy Mexico. The consular section is working on helping Americans, so getting statistics together has to wait.