Insane U.S. Strategy Feeds Guns to Mexican Drug Lords
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“Everything you do is under our direction,” he said. “We’re not going to let him go off and do his thing.”
It is conceivable, the agent said, that DEA agents understood that Loya was cooperating with the express permission of Chapo Guzman. He declined to comment if informant agreements between U.S. officials and cartel informants are kept secret from America’s ostensible ally, the Mexican government.
“Look, you need bad guys to get bad guys,” said a law enforcement agent working on drug trafficking on the Texas border. “Sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil.”
For Loya his cooperation paid off and the charges were dismissed. The 1998 federal indictment, which also lists Chapo Guzman, revealed the cozy relations the Sinaloa cartel enjoyed with some people of the Mexican government. Loya allegedly was responsible for paying off Mexican officials to ensure drug loads weren’t intercepted, according to court records. And if a member of the Sinaloa cartel was arrested, Loya simply bribed officials in the Mexican attorney general’s office, for access to the files so he could alter them.
“The cartels themselves aren’t powerful,” says investigative reporter Anabel Hernandez, author of “Los Senores del Narco,” a popular book about cartel leaders. “If Chapo didn’t depend on the protection of the Mexican government, he couldn’t have grown so much or be able to buy so much drugs. Chapo studied to the third grade … he’s a pendejo [idiot]. The power he has is not because the Mexican government is dumb. It’s because of corruption.”
ICE agents listen to a murder
Zambada’s attorneys have resurrected some lesser-known cases of informant relations gone badly, citing them as examples of U.S. agents turning a blind eye to criminal activity — often to the benefit of the Sinaloa cartel.
In Ciudad Juarez, a former police chief Jesús Fierro-Méndez took orders from Guzman while supplying U.S. Immigration and Border Enforcement (ICE) agents with information on the rival Juarez cartel at the same time he was smuggling drugs for the Sinaloa cartel. DEA agents eventually arrested Fierro-Méndez.
More notorious was Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, aka Lalo. He served as U.S. informant 913 for ICE. He also purchased the tape and quicklime used to dissolve at least one body in the infamous Juarez “House of Death” of 2003, where police turned up the remains of 12 people. ICE agents in El Paso reportedly listened in on one killing where Ramirez was present. Agents went to lengths to protect their informant. Dallas Morning News veteran drug trafficking reporter Alfredo Corchado reported that after the “House of Death” was discovered, handlers tampered with an internal memo to make it appear that Ramirez merely “supervised” rather than actually participated.
The U.S. government collaborated with Ramirez for four years, according to court documents in his immigration case. ICE agents provided him with immunity and $220,000 in return for information on the rival Juarez cartel. His information resulted in more than 50 arrests. Earlier this year Ramirez was released from an immigration center after six years in detention. U.S. officials agreed to cancel his order of deportation citing risk of death by the Mexican government or organized crime. He served no time for the killings. He has applied for a U.S. green card.
“We armed the cartel … disgusting”
The case of the corrupt cops went to trial as the Sinaloa cartel was waging a violent offensive to capture the lucrative Ciudad Juarez route from the Juarez cartel, with the apparent help of the Mexican military. According to a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, the Mexican army did little to quell the violence: “The view is widely held that the army is comfortable letting the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels diminish each other’s strength as they fight for control of the “plaza” (with a corollary theory being that the army would like to see the Sinaloa cartel win).”