Undercover US Informants Committed Murders In Mexico; DEA Shielded Them

Latin America World

“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

At least seven infiltrators trafficked drugs, kidnapped and tortured for the cartels, while charging up to one million dollars a year in the United States. DEA learned about the crimes, accuses senator.

DEA informants are prohibited from killing someone

His slogan is to infiltrate drug trafficking organizations and gangs to obtain information, know their movements and with it the authorities can act. But some of these confidential informants, first-hand sources in the field, became a problem for the US agencies that recruited them. There is information that they participated in drug trafficking and even murders, despite being monitored by those who hire them and receiving economic stimulus.

The recent revelation was put in the public arena by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who claimed the murder of two confidential DEA informants at the hands of hitmen who worked for Los Chapitos – as the children of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera are known. But this is not the only case that has gotten out of the hands of government agencies in the United States.

Information obtained by MILENIO reveals that in the last decade, at least seven confidential informants continued with drug trafficking, participated in executions, bribes and acts of corruption despite receiving concessions and money from agencies in that country.

One of them is Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez Peyro, who carried out murders in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, while working as an informant for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). His case revealed how for years these informants have come to operate in the dark, with few controls but with government protection.

Republican Senator Grassley not only revealed in the letter sent on August 21, 2023 to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Lisa Oudens Monaco, that two confidential informants were killed, but also questioned the unilateral investigations carried out by the anti-drug agency, the DEA, as well as the protection that infiltrators receive from the federal prosecutor’s office itself.

Republican Senator Grassley not only revealed in the letter sent on August 21, 2023

Even the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), of the Treasury Department of this country, has criticized the use of so-called “confidential informants.” Doing so, the OIG maintains, responds to many factors, in which it does not rule out financial gains, avoiding punishments and even committing revenge.

The OIG, in fact, detected that agencies such as the DEA had on their payroll, for 30 years, a single confidential informant to whom they paid 30 million dollars, that is, about one million dollars a year for their information.

The House of the Dead

The story of this massacre would not exist without Guillermo Ramírez Peyro, a former policeman of the Mexican dependency Caminos y Puentes Federales (Capufe), of the Ministry of Communications, who in 1995 decided to combine his career as a public servant with the task of supervising and distributing cocaine for the Juárez Cartel.

However, doubling in those jobs was not enough for him. Ambitious, in 2000 he tripled his activities: now he was not only a policeman and drug trafficker, but also a confidential informant of the US agency ICE.

According to information in the appeals court of the South District of Florida, the Mexican managed to extract information from the Juárez Cartel to deliver it to the government of that country. According to Ramírez’s statement during his time as an infiltrator, he managed to arrest about 50 people, including Heriberto Santillán, a high-level lieutenant of the Juárez Cartel.

It was his relationship with this man, Santillán, that placed Ramírez Peyro in a terrifying and irreversible situation.

According to a complaint obtained by this newspaper, Ramírez Peyro began working in the early 2000s for Santillán. But the drug trafficker not only asked him to manage drug shipments to the United States, but also to participate in the murders of his “enemies.” Thus began a chain of crimes, as a result of which the bodies of the murdered people were buried in a house near the Rio Bravo, which they called, without much thought, La Casa de los Entierros or La Casa de los Muertos.

By 2003, the confidential informant learned that Santillán would eliminate a lawyer named Fernando Reyes Aguado. Despite the fact that confidential informants are prohibited from murdering when they are reporting to the United States government, an ICE agent who learned of that order not only did not stop him, but also asked him to activate his phone to hear the crime in real time. And he was not the only one who carried out with the agency’s knowledge: Ramírez committed another 13 murders.

Later Santillán fell, and with it the clandestine grave in the House of the Dead was revealed. There they found the body of Luis Padilla Cardona, an American citizen who had disappeared in Ciudad Juárez. And it was his family who filed a lawsuit in the courts of El Paso, Texas. Through the testimony of Janeth, his wife, and their three children – minors at the time – unpublished details of the life of her husband, who was just 29 years old, were revealed.

According to Janeth Padilla, her husband was tortured along with 20 other people who were later buried in the courtyard of a small house in Ciudad Juárez. But that, perhaps, could not have happened if the US government made the decision to stop the massacre.

Because Ramírez Peyro, maintains the complaint, operated with the knowledge of ICE officials, under the supervision of the agents named García, Kramer, Compton, Bencomo and the deputy federal lawyer Juanita Fielden. He participated in kidnappings and murders for the Juárez Cartel and was known as “Lalo” or the confidential informant “SA-913-EP”.

Janeth Padilla tells in her testimony that Ramírez killed his first victim – the well-known Juarense lawyer named Fernando Reyes Aguado – while he was on the American payroll. “The murder was actually monitored and recorded by ICE officials as it happened. The shocking thing is the details that reveal how Reyes begged for his life.” That and the other murders were planned before they were carried out.

The lawsuit discloses the details of the decisive role that the confidential informant had in manipulating and murdering his victims that he would then take to the house on Parsioneros Street, in Ciudad Juárez. He used adhesive tape, rope and a plastic bag to torture those alleged enemies of the cartel. After each murder, he buried the bodies and then to disguise the decomposition he bought sacks of lime and emptied them in the pits, where he stacked the corpses on top of each other.

The United States government paid Ramírez hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even when he returned from reporting in that country, he was allowed to carry a 9mm Beretta pistol with a 15-bullet magazine.

“The apathy, tarnished by incompetence, characterized the operations led by ICE and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in El Paso,” the indictment reads.

“They’re only Mexicans”

Padilla’s family recounted in their statements how a federal prosecutor, when the way in which cold-blooded murders were allowed in Mexico was discovered, said: “Who cares, they are only Mexicans.”

Among the deaths that were tolerated is one that was described by Ramírez himself: a murder of a mother and her three-year-old girl. Both came to ask the cartel for help and money for their husband’s legal defense. Instead of giving them the money, the woman and the girl were killed.

According to his family, Padilla was one more victim of the kidnapping of passers-by in Ciudad Juárez. According to information they could obtain, the murderers were actually going after someone else; it turned out that Luis Padilla Cardona, in the middle of the street and near that “objective”, was confused, kidnapped, tortured and finally his body was buried in the House of the Dead.

The Padilla family’s lawsuit, however, was dismissed.

Ramírez remained a protected witness in the United States and received $220,000 for his work. Then, he disappeared, until 2020 when he was accused of possessing and distributing cocaine. Ramírez Peyro had returned to his old ways and paradoxically was a “CI”, a confidential FBI informant, who took him to prison: by selling the cocaine, this time the infiltrator – as the other did many years ago – recorded it in audio and video. His sentence was to spend 78 months in a prison.

Narcos, but friends

A chapter of the document called Attorney General’s Guidelines regarding the use of confidential informants, points out that agencies such as the FBI “is never allowed to authorize a confidential informant to participate in an act of violence, obstruction of justice or other illegal activities listed.”

In addition, if an informant commits unauthorized illegal activity, the FBI and the Department of Justice must immediately reassess the suitability of that informant.

That’s what the law says, but in reality sometimes things are different.

Other cases, such as that of Agapito González Ramírez, reveal how confidential informants have misused their position. It was the same DEA that discovered that throughout a drug trafficking operation, Agapito intended to snitch out his partners, but also to keep the money from the large sale of prohibited substances.

He did so until the story was repeated with him: DEA agents had to use another confidential informant, who posed as a buyer, to obtain approximately 40 pounds of marijuana. Then, the anti-narcotics agents transferred the payment of the drugs to Gónzalez Ramírez’s bank account, and he, at no time, confessed to someone from the Agency or another police entity about the transaction. He was taking advantage of his position to keep the big payout.

Large-caliber capos join the list of confidential informants who committed crimes. They are Jesús Vicente Zambada Niebla, El Vicentillo, son of Ismael El Mayo Zambada; Humberto Loya Castro, lawyer of the Sinaloa Cartel; the lawyer of the Gulf Cartel, Juan Guerrero Chapa (already murdered); that of the extortionist Miguel Rodríguez, and even Édgar Valdez Villareal himself, La Barbie, according to journalist Anabel Hernández.

Milenio  Borderland Beat Archives