Bill Conroy's Comments
And like many cowboys Ive run across, Ford has a knack for telling stories. But in this cowboys case, the stories are true.
Ford has a love for nature, for ranching, for growing crops, herding cattle and tending to horses. Hes ridden bucking broncos that can break your back, stared down bulls that will rip open your abdomen and delivered foals in the open range. Ford also can make refried beans from scratch, serve up a mouth-watering plate of Texas barbeque, raise crops on the scorched earth of West Texas and find water in the parched desert of northern Mexico.
Yes, he is a true cowboy, who spent a good part of his youth on a ranch in West Texas along the Pecos River, where he learned that the only cash crop in that part of the world is the one that takes money out of a ranchers pockets.
That economic reality helped drag Ford into the heart of the drug war. That is Fords story, which he tells from the heart in his new book: Contrabando, Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy.
Santillan is charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder allegedly carried out as part of a continuing criminal enterprise a crime that can get him a death sentence in the U.S. justice system. A confidential informant, who allegedly had attained high standing within the Juarez organization, played a critical role in snaring Santillan.
The informants name is Jesus Contreras, who is also known by the nickname Lalo.
Narco News published a major exposé in late April of this year (called The House of Death) that revealed Contreras, as part of his role in infiltrating the Santillan organization, was implicated in a series of murders in Ciudad Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town. Contreras, according to sources, participated in many of those murders.
As I was smoking a cigarette on my patio the other night, thinking about Gary Webb and how everything I stood for in journalism was now quaking under my feet, I recalled that Gary told me there was one person, in particular, that he trusted completely: journalist Chuck Bowden.
Gary had once told me that he would trust Chuck Bowden with his life.
So in the wake of Garys recent death, I decided to look up Bowden and give him a call.
Those charges are outlined in a letter the attorney, John Cavicchi, sent last month to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. In addition to raising the corruption allegations, Cavicchis letter also advocates that the current commissioner of CBP, Robert Bonner, be replaced by Mark Conrad, a former U.S. Customs regional supervisor who has earned a reputation as a government whistleblower.
CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, employs some 41,000 people charged with managing, controlling and protecting the U.S. borders. Cavicchis charges take aim at the South Florida operations of CBP -- specifically Miami, one of the busiest seaside entry points in the country.
Cavicchi gained national prominence as the lawyer for Louis Greco, who was convicted in Boston of being party to a 1965 mob-related assassination. Greco, a disabled WWII veteran, spent some 30 years in prison, all the while contending he was innocent.
Between August 2003 and mid-January of 2004, a dozen people were murdered and buried in the yard of a house in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican border city of 1.2 million people.What the Narco News story didnt mention in its April story was the name of the murdered kid from Socorro. He was Luis Padilla. He left behind a wife and three small kids.
Santillan (an alleged leader in the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Juarez drug organization) and his cronies controlled the house. This group included the informant, known only as "Lalo," who was on the payroll of the U.S. Immigration and Customs (Enforcement) agency....
... The informant, Lalo, say the law enforcement whistleblowers, even brought the tape and the lime used to help dispose of the bodies. The law enforcement sources believe that he was at the death house during up to nine of the 12 murders known to have taken place there. Most of those killed were allegedly Mexican drug dealers, except for one individual, who was a U.S. citizen "some kid from Socorro, Texas, just south of El Paso," says one law enforcement source.
Narco News stepped out on a limb in agreeing to put the entire book on its site, but publisher Al Giordano and his compadres are not new to that game. They recognize that Borderline Security offers readers a crucial perspective on law enforcement in the United States with respect to the so-called war on drugs.
The decision by Narco News to run with Borderline Security, to get the book out to the people, takes on even more importance given the corporate culture that dominates the mainstream publishing industry. The lame conformist state of the book industry in this country probably comes as no surprise to many of you, but it is still a frustrating fact of life for any author who makes the decision to commit to a journalistic project that seeks to break new ground.
Officials with the nonprofit Black Agents of the Secret Service (BASS) allege that for the past four years -- the lawsuit was filed in 2000 -- the Bush Administration and the Secret Service have used the judicial process to prevent a discussion of this case on its merits. BASS representatives say not a single witness has been called nor has a single document been produced in the case to date.
The refusal to address the merits of the Black Agents case is shameful, said Special Agent Reginald G. Moore, BASS president, in a prepared statement. It is particularly disappointing that nothing was done after (former U.S.) Rep. J.C. Watts arranged a meeting with White House Associate Counsel Stuart Bowen and the class representatives to discuss the case. This is not a situation where the White House is unaware of the issues, nor could they be after the appearance of several front-page stories on the gross mismanagement and racial discrimination in the Secret Service.
The alleged racial discrimination problems within the Secret Service -- formerly part of the Treasury Department and now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- appear to be part of a widespread pattern of racism within major federal law enforcement agencies.
The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us -- biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
If indeed the United States faces such a threat, we better hope the terrorists dont speak a foreign language.
According to email correspondence leaked to Narco News, the Department of Homeland Securitys main investigative arm, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), suspended all foreign-language pay for its agents for fiscal year 2004, which ended Sept. 30. In addition, due to budget constraints, Homeland Security (DHS) has not ruled doing the same in the coming fiscal year, according to Russ Knocke, director of public affairs for ICE.
For people working in the media, this memo may not come as a big shock, as many have become reluctant participants in the sham. But for readers, this memo should be disturbing, as it demonstrates clearly how much of what you read in the mainstream media is scripted, right down to who talks to the media, what they say, and which media get to cover the story.
What is more telling is the news that is suppressed, that readers are not allowed to know because the heads of our government agencies deem it more important to spin the news than to provide critical information to citizens that is vital to the proper functioning of the democracy.
The memo provided to Narco News was distributed to local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices from ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.
ICE, composed of special agents from the former U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, is the primary investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The DHS memo obtained by Narco News provides very specific instructions on how local ICE offices are to create a media event for Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15.
CBS is on the ropes right now over airing a story based on documents critical of Bushs National Guard service, documents that now appear to be forgeries. The documents were leaked to CBS by Burkett, who has previously claimed that Bush operatives orchestrated the destruction of National Guard records that reflected poorly on the president.
Remember the Mike Horner case, where CBS in 1997 fell for forged documents from a U.S. Customs whistleblower? Most of what Horner was saying at the time was true, my sources contend. The problem was that Horner couldnt handle the heat in the kitchen anymore, and so he did fabricate a memo to advance his story.
In 2000, Mr. Horner admitted he forged the memo "for media exposure" and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.
... In 1999 Leslie Stahl read an apology on the air: "We have concluded we were deceived, and ultimately, so were you, the viewers."
That same scenario could be unfolding in the Burkett affair, true. But that assumes Burkett acted alone in fabricating the documents. Was he the lone gunman, or were their other players on this grassy knoll?