House of Death on fire

In late April, Narco News published a story about an informant for the U.S. government who was implicated in a series of murders in Juárez, Mexico -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The informant’s handlers, agents with the El Paso office of the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), were allegedly fully aware of the informant’s complicity in the murders, yet did nothing to stop the killing for fear of jeopardizing the cases they were trying to make with the informant’s help.

In the wake of the Narco News story, there has been a major shakeup at the El Paso ICE office. From a June 4th report in the Dallas Morning News:

The regional head of the U.S. agency responsible for border protection has been removed as authorities investigate an agency informant's apparent participation in the killing of a Mexican drug dealer, officials said.

The shake-up in the El Paso office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement includes two other personnel changes, designed to restore confidence and credibility....

According to the story, the special-agent-in-charge of the El Paso ICE office, Giovanni Gaudioso, has been replaced. Gaudioso has been transferred back to ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

An ICE spokesperson characterized the transfer as a simple duty rotation, according to the Dallas Morning News. However, transferring someone back to headquarters also is a typical tactic used by agency brass to put someone in deep freeze during a controversy, according to ICE sources.

In addition to Gaudioso, at least two other El Paso ICE agents appear to have been slapped down due to the controversy.

From the Dallas Morning News:

Officials familiar with the investigation said that besides Mr. Gaudioso, Patricia Kramer, an associate special-agent-in-charge, was demoted last month and is awaiting transfer from El Paso, and that Curtis Compton, a group supervisor, will likely be replaced within 30 days.

And there could be trouble brewing for other government officials who had knowledge of the informant’s alleged murderous activities. Narco News reported that besides officials with ICE, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also played a major role in overseeing the informant.

From Narco News' story, called The House of Death:

According to law enforcement sources, ... Assistant U.S. Attorney, Juanita Fielden, in El Paso ... also worked closely with the ICE supervisors and agents who handled the informant....

The Dallas Morning News reports that Fielden, too, may now be in the hot seat:

Officials familiar with the investigation said they want to know what Juanita Fielden, the El Paso assistant U.S. attorney, knew of the informant's activities in Juárez, when she knew it and what counsel, if any, she provided ICE supervisors.

Asked if Ms. Fielden was under investigation, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney general's office, Daryl Fields, said, “I won’t comment on that.”

“This office is not aware of the scope of the investigation, if any, by ICE,” Mr. Fields said.

Findings of an internal ICE investigation into the informant case are expected by the end of June. The results will be turned over to congressional investigators, who will help determine whether congressional hearings will be held or other measures taken.

Adding another layer of intrigue to the story is its international resonance. The Dallas Morning News reports that a “senior Mexican official in Mexico City” said the Mexican government is “very upset about the criminal activities of this informant.”

 “Yes, we were told by ICE of an investigation in our territory,” the official added. “But we were never told that those activities included murder.”

Stay tuned.....

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