DEA veteran claims House of Death informant had license to murder

Narco News has been covering the House of Death mass murder story for more than two years. From the first story in the series, published in April 2004, law enforcement sources and later public documents have made it clear that a U.S. government informant participated in dozen or more murders in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, with the knowledge of U.S. law enforcers and prosecutors.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for whom the informant (Guillermo Ramirez Peyro) worked, and prosecutors with the Department of Justice, who were charged with trying the case against the narco-trafficker at the center of the House of Death, have continued to either deny their complicity in the murders or simply refuse to comment on the case.

However, yet another document has come to light that supports Narco News’ version of the House of Death story and casts serious doubts on the U.S. government’s continued whitewashing of the facts in this case. Even prior to this latest revelation, U.S. law enforcement sources, including Sandalio Gonzalez, the former head of DEA’s El Paso, Texas, field office, have contended for some time that Homeland Security and Justice officials have actively worked to cover-up the facts of U.S. government complicity in the murders.

Seemingly adding more weight to the charges of a cover-up, U.S. government attorneys revealed recently in court pleadings related to the House of Death that DEA is considering classifying portions of a critical joint DEA/ICE report about the mass murder case by invoking the cloak of national security.

The families of the victims of the House of Death murders have filed a lawsuit alleging that ICE officials and the lead prosecutor in the House of Death case violated their constitutional rights. That litigation is currently pending in federal court in El Paso, which is just across the Rio Grande River from Juarez.

Recently, in that case, an affidavit was filed by a former high-level DEA agent, who previously served as the head of the agency’s Dallas field office and as head of DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center. The former agent, Phil Jordan, and his experiences, including the murder of his brother as a result of a suspected narco-trafficker payback, are the subject of a book called “Down by the River,” penned by Charles Bowden. The book is considered a seminal work on the drug war and its pernicious and bloody reach across both sides of the border.

Jordan’s affidavit is a new and crucial document because it brings sharply into focus what Narco News has been reporting on the House of Death mass murder for years now. As a result, we now wish to share his testimony, provided under oath, in its entirety with you kind readers.

(Information in the affidavit below that is contained in [brackets] has been added by Narco News for background purposes. ICE officials mentioned in the affidavit are identified by the titles they held at the time the House of Death played out in 2003 and early 2004.)

Affidavit of Phillip E. Jordan


Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day appeared Phillip E. Jordan known to me to be the person whose name appears below, who upon being duly sworn, deposes and states the following:

My name is Phillip Jordan. I am over the age of 21 years and in all ways competent to make this affidavit. All of the facts stated herein are within my personal knowledge and are true and correct.

I have over 30 years in law enforcement. I served with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for over 30 years, from 1965 to 1996. I was the DEA Special Agent in Charge for the Dallas Division and I was the former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). I was a senior inspector for the DEA in charge of inspections and overseeing the operations of confidential informants prior to my transfer to the Dallas Division. I supervised the compliance of numerous memorandums of understanding between DEA and the United States Customs and other agencies.

I have reviewed the affidavits submitted by [Assistant U.S. Attorney in El Paso] Ms. Juanita Fielden, [ICE agent] Raul Bencomo, [ICE supervisor] Curtis Compton and [ICE Special Agent in Charge of El Paso] Giovanni Gaudioso in this case. With regard to Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, the informant, I have reviewed the following: 1) The Court transcript of Ramirez’s testimony before Judge Dierkes; 2) His Deposition testimony; 3) Declaration given before the Mexican Consulate in Dallas – Spanish and English translations; 4) Recorded interview by Ramirez to the media [conducted by ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas]; 5) State of New Mexico arrest records; 6) Ramirez Confidential Source instructions.

I reviewed the following correspondence: BICE [Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also referred to as ICE] August 25, 2003 Memorandum, stating Ramirez “supervised” the murders and had minimal participation. U.S. Customs letter to the Mexican Attorney General SIEDO attaché Jorge Rosas, dated August 15, 2003.

I reviewed the independent Management Review conducted by the DEA timeline of events and analysis by DEA SAC [Special Agent in Charge in El Paso] Sandalio Gonzalez. I have also reviewed the criminal indictments in EP-03-CR-2291-KC and the manual titled: Attorney General Guidelines Regarding The Use of Confidential Informants.

Ms. Fielden’s testimony is inconsistent and lacks credibility. Fielden admits that the first murder was recorded by the informant. Fielden does not reveal whether the Judge signed a T-III [Title III federal wiretap law] federal intercept order. And, if so, what did they tell the judge in the [required] 10-day report? The report would indicate whether they informed the judge that the informant supervised but did not participate in the murder. This would have been a mischaracterization and deceptive.

Fielden’s statements indicate that she misrepresented the true nature of the informant’s involvement. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement August 25, 2003 memorandum gives an incomplete account of the informant’s involvement in the murder. Fielden and ICE’s account of the murder of [Mexican attorney Fernando] Reyes [the first victim at the House of Death in Juarez] was not completely truthful, especially compared with Ramirez’s own statements. Ramirez gave a sworn statement to the Mexican consulate in Dallas, Texas. He testified in immigration court. And, he has given a sworn deposition.

In his deposition, Mr. Ramirez adopted the statement to the Mexican consulate as true and accurate. The statement gives a detailed account of the murder of Fernando Reyes that occurred in August 2003. By all indications, Ramirez was a key participant in the torture and murder of Reyes. Ramirez also admits his involvement in disposing of the bodies. It is my belief that [federal] Judge Phil Martinez would not have authorized the Title III [wiretap] intercept had he been informed of Ramirez’s true involvement in murder.

Ms. Fielden and ICE agents deliberately excluded DEA personnel and concealed information regarding Ramirez’s involvement in murders and other illegal activity. The cooperating individual referred to as the “CI” in the affidavit [Ramirez Peyro], was arrested by New Mexico DEA Special Agent Mike Garcia. After the CI’s arrest, Ms. Fielden held a meeting with ICE management, excluding DEA personnel. Under the established protocol, Ms. Fielden had no right to call this meeting without the arresting agency being present and did not have justification to request the dismissal of the charges [against Ramirez Peyro] that were pending in state court without DEA consultation. Under DEA policy, if an informant is arrested committing a crime, he subject to being “blacklisted” and extraordinary precautions would have to be taken in order to continue utilizing this type of informant. Murder is not negotiable to continue the utilization of an informant.

Ms. Fielden makes no mention of any DEA consultation. Ms. Fielden claims to have obtained a “consensus” to continue using the informant. The reasons Ms. Fielden and ICE personnel concealed information from DEA is clear. Ms. Fielden and the ICE agents were aware of the CI’s illicit activities, i.e., committing murder, which is totally against DEA and Department of Justice policy. It has always been DEA policy that an investigation is terminated when the CI is an accomplice, accessory, or is about to commit a murder. To allow a CI to continue cooperating with the government after having been involved in criminal wrong-doing, i.e., murder, is against all Department of Justice policies, and, most important, the United States Constitution.

Ramirez testified that his BICE handlers knew ahead of time that murders were planned. According to Ramirez, the intercepts indicate the time, place and the person(s) targeted for torture and murder. I refer to the court transcript of Ramirez’s testimony as well as his media interview.

In his 18 years of law enforcement, [ICE Special Agent Raul] Bencomo has been trained to discontinue working with an informant that “supervised” and participated in a murder. It is simply not credible that Department of Justice Officials would approve the continued use of an informant directly involved in murder.

Bencomo and [ICE Supervisor Curtis] Compton’s claims that they were not aware of the killings prior to them taking place are contrary to the evidence. The DEA timeline of events show that the ICE agents allowed Ramirez to return to Juarez armed with a firearm against both U.S. policy and Mexican law. The informant continued his involvement after each sequential murder and debriefing. Bencomo states they learned of the “murders” through “interviews” of Ramirez after the fact. He does not indicate how many interviews took place between August 3, 2003 and January 4, 2004. He does not indicate how many murders took place. There is no evidence to support Compton’s claim that the Mexican authorities authorized the operations to continue.

As a supervisor, Compton should have blacklisted the informant immediately upon learning of the first murder. Compton cannot explain why Ramirez signed the INSTRUCTION FOR CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES FORM under a fictitious name “Jesus Contreras.” Furthermore, Ramirez was never required to sign another form after the first murder.

According to the Ramirez media interview [as well as Narco News’ interview with the informant], ICE took no action to prevent the murders from occurring and stop the operation. Ramirez was specifically instructed not to record any more murders, thus giving the informant a false impression that he had license to kill.

Bencomo and Compton admit Ramirez told them where the murder took place giving the exact address. This means El Paso ICE lied to the DEA in Juarez, and to the Mexican authorities in the letter dated August 15, 2003. The Letter to the PGR stated that the informant “witnessed” a murder and suggested they didn’t know where the murder took place.

Bencomo claims to have worked diligently with the prosecutor to prepare an indictment of [the narco-trafficker] Santillan but did not indict him for the first murder. This is further indication that the prosecutors were attempting to conceal Ramirez’s involvement in the first murder. I believe it was never the prosecutor and ICE’s intention to arrest Santillan for the first murder because they continued sending the informant to Juarez where additional murders took place. Moreover, when the prosecutor indicted Santillan in November 2003, she did not charge him with the first murder. Fielden knew the murders were taking place and they took no action to prevent them. DEA was never consulted during this time.

Bencomo knew of the first murder and the caliber of the Juarez cartel [the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (VCF) organization] they were investigating. It stands to reason that other murders would follow. By the informant’s modus operandi, BICE would have reason to expect that others would be killed. As the record shows, Ramirez was acting as an agent of the U.S. government.

The agents attempt to justify their actions by claiming that all of this happened in Mexico. The murders were being supervised, however, by an informant sponsored by the U.S. government. It is startling to say the least given [ICE El Paso Special Agent in Charge] Gaudioso’s experience and training that he allowed the operation to continue after Ramirez admitted to committing murder while working for BICE.

The BICE officials, including Raul Bencomo, Curtis Compton and Giovanni Gaudioso, make no efforts to stop Ramirez from participating in the murders. The several management reviews of Bencomo, Compton, [ICE Associate Special Agent in Charge Patricia] Kramer and Fielden show a total disregard for human life and disrespect for the rule of law in Mexico. The evidence indicates that BICE officials and Ms. Fielden made no efforts to arrest the suspects and “take down” the case. This allowed an additional 13 murders to take place. According to the DEA review, the BICE agents and the prosecutor’s office went to great lengths to protect this homicidal informant. Gaudioso allowed the prosecutor Fielden to make operational decisions regarding Ramirez. The operation was only stopped after the attempted murder of a DEA agent and his family in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Under DEA and Department of Justice Guidelines, a federal agent has an affirmative duty to prevent a premeditated murder or bodily harm that could lead to death. The federal agents knew that the informant and the Juarez cartel had specifically targeted specific individuals for execution. After review of the evidence, the federal agents made no attempts to prevent the murders from occurring.

The actions of Raul Bencomo, Curtis Compton, Giovanni Gaudioso, Patricia Kramer and Juanita Fielden show deliberate, reckless, or callous indifference to the constitutional rights of the victims and their survivors. The victims and their families are legal residents and citizens of the United States protected by the Constitution. The fact that the crimes committed by Ramirez, the confidential informant, were only halted after the apparent targeting of two DEA Special Agents is unprecedented in my 30 years of law enforcement.

Phillip E. Jordan

Oct. 6, 2006

For a complete list of Narco News’ coverage of the case to date, go to this link.

Also, following are links to a list of documents mentioned in Jordan’s affidavit, some of which were previously only available in redacted form.

Affidavit of Assistant U.S. Attorney Juanita Fielden

Feb. 12, 2004 debriefing of the House of Death informant by Mexican Office of the Attorney General

Affidavits of ICE agents Raul Bencomo, Curtis R. Compton, Giovanni Gaudioso; Homeland Security letter to Mexican Office of the Attorney General after first House of Death murder; ICE instructions to the informant; ICE letter concerning arrest of informant for drug smuggling

Affidavit of former DEA agent Phillip E. Jordan

Unredacted Aug. 25, 2003, ICE memo detailing informant’s participation in the first House of Death murder

DEA timeline of events in the House of Death case

U.S. Attorney General’s guidelines regarding use of confidential informants

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