Fast & Furious Scandal goes up to White House

RealClearPolitics
September 14, 2011

Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) says it is now very apparent, if it was not before, that the White House was deeply connected in the “Fast & Furious” mission where guns were trafficked across the US-Mexico border. Mr. Issa appeared on FOX News’ “Special Report” program to discuss the matter. Transcript below.

BAIER: Now to operation “Fast and Furious,” your investigation there.

You sent a letter to the White House, asking for William Newell, the special agent in charge of the ATF Phoenix field office and Kevin O’Reilly, director of North American Affairs — American Affairs National Security Council staff, an e-mail exchange between the two of them and I’ll quote from your letter.

The e-mail says, quote, “When a 22-year-old kid on state financial assistance walks into a gun store and plops down $12,000 in cash to buy a tripod mounted 50 caliber rifle, that’s a clue even for us that he’s involved in trafficking firearms to a Mexican DTO, in other words, moving this to cartels. Is this — do you believe, evidence that this goes all the way to the White House?

ISSA: Well, it went all the way to the White House, whether it went to people who knew or should have known to stop this, remains to be seen, but our committee has been following the trail that has been impeded by the administration, particularly, by the justice department. And each time we get to a certain level of clearness, somebody gets fired, somebody gets changed, and we keep going.

Well, stop throwing the little guys under the bus and just tell us that somebody did something stupid by allowing this so that we can be assured it won’t happen again. So far, we don’t get that.

BAIER: And you have in this letter a request for response from the White House by September 14th to make Mr. O’Reilly available. Has there been a response yet?

ISSA: Not yet. The expectation is, we want to be very narrow. There was an exchange. We have copies of it. We become aware of it. There’s a claim that it was benign. That there wasn’t a lot of information exchanged. f he corroborates that, we can move on, because we have lots of other areas in which we’re seeing an expanding program that “Fast and Furious” wasn’t supposed to be, but appears to be.

See video of interview here.

Sinaloa Cartel Becomes King of Mexico Meth Production

With the decline of Mexico‘s Familia Michoacana drug gang, it appears that the Sinaloa Cartel has stepped up as the largest distributor of methamphetamine to the U.S., illustrating an inherent contradiction in any “war on drugs.”

by  Geoffrey Ramsey
In Sight Crime
September 3, 2011

Over the past several months, the once-mighty Familia Michoacana has suffered several major blows to its organizational structure. In December, police shot and killed Familia leader and founding member Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, a development which caused the group to split into two factions, one of which calls itself the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), while the other has kept the original name. In June, officials arrested another Familia leader, Jose de Jesus Mendez, alias “El Chango,” prompting government security spokesman Alejandro Poire to claim that “what was left of the command structure of this criminal organization is destroyed.”

He may be right — now, in perhaps the clearest sign of the group’s decline, the Familia has reportedly lost its tight hold on the lucrative methamphetamine trade. This has traditionally been the largest source of revenue for the criminal organization. According to the Associated Press, the rival Sinaloa Cartel has taken advantage of the Familia’s weakened state to seize control of meth production, and is expanding on a massive scale. As evidence, the report says that a haul of more than 400 metric tons of precursor chemicals, used to produce meth, that were seized from a warehouse in Queretaro last July belonged to the Sinaloans.

Even more telling than the sheer bulk of chemicals was the way in which they were organized; when police raided the warehouse they found its contents neatly stacked by forklift into separate categories, suggesting that the group has a well-developed industrial process for making and transporting methamphetamine.

This is a classic illustration of the so-called hydra effect, or balloon effect — the process by which each blow a government strikes against one organized criminal group simply allows another to rise and take its place. Following to this theory, targeting individual groups will usually only cause production to shift location or change hands. In this case, the cartel taking over the meth trade, Sinaloa, happens to be the most powerful in the country, which does not bode well for U.S. efforts against this highly addictive substance.

According to one anonymous U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico who spoke to the Associated Press, the Sinaloa Cartel has the potential to surpass the Familia’s meth-exporting efforts, as the group already has an extensive supply chain for bringing cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the United States. “Although La Familia has distribution points in the U.S. … they don’t have the distribution network that Sinaloa Cartel has,” said the official.

What’s more, demand for Mexican meth in the U.S. has gone up in recent years. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, the Mexican military raided 103 clandestine methamphetamine labs during the first six months of this year, which amounts to a 25 percent increase from the same period in 2010. Meanwhile U.S. border officials seized a record 5,588 kilograms of meth along the border last year, up from 3,602 kilos in 2009. Officials have already seized that much so far this year, and are set to surpass last year’s record.

Court Documents: Sinaloa “Cartel” Protected by U.S. Government

by Bill Conroy
The Narcosphere
September 3, 2011

Originally published July 31, 2011

Deal Allegedly Gave Sinaloa Bosses Immunity in Exchange for Providing Info on Rival Drug Organizations

The son of a heavy hitter in a powerful Mexican drug trafficking organization has filed explosive legal pleadings in federal court in Chicago accusing the US government of cutting a deal with the the “Sinaloa Cartel” that gave its leadership “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States.”

The source of that allegation is Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization — a major Mexican-based importer of weapons and exporter of drugs.

The top capo of the Sinaloa drug organization, named after the Pacific Coast Mexican state where it is based, is Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo) — who escaped from a maximum security prison in Mexico in 2001, only days before he was slated to be extradited to the United States. Chapo has since gone on to build one of the most powerful drug “cartels” in Mexico. With the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, Chapo (a Spanish nickname meaning “shorty”) jumped to the top of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” persons list. He also made Forbes Magazine’s 2010 list of “The World’s Most Powerful People.”

Zambada Niebla, himself a key player in the Sinaloa organization, was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and last February extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.

The indictment pending against Zambada Niebla claims he served as the “logistical coordinator” for the “cartel,” helping to oversee an operation that imported into the US “multi-ton quantities of cocaine … using various means, including but not limited to, Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, private aircraft … buses, rail cars, tractor-trailers, and automobiles.”

Zambada Niebla also claims to be an asset of the US government. His allegation was laid out originally in a two-page court pleading filed in late March with the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

The latest allegations being advanced by Zambada Niebla, who is now being held in solitary confinement in a jail cell in Chicago, are laid out in motions filed late this week in federal court. Those pleadings spell out the supposed cooperative relationship between the US Department of Justice and its various agencies, including DEA and the FBI, and the leaders of the “Sinaloa Cartel” — including Zambada Niebla.

That alleged relationship was cultivated through a Mexican attorney, Humberto Loya Castro, whom Zambada Niebla claims is a Sinaloa Cartel member and “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo).”

From Zambada Niebla’s court pleadings, filed on July 29:

[Humberto] Loya was indicted along with Chapo and Mayo [Zambada Niebla’s father] in 1995 in the Southern District of California and charged with participation in a massive narcotics trafficking conspiracy (Case No. 95CR0973). That case was dismissed on the prosecution’s own motion in 2008 after Loya became an informant for the United States government and had provided information for a period of over ten years.

Sometime prior to 2004 [when George W. Bush was president], and continuing through the time period covered in the indictment, the United States government entered into an agreement with Loya and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, including Mayo and Chapo.

Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya, was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government. In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya, not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them.

The protection extended to the Sinaloa leadership, according to the court filings, included being “informed by agents of the DEA through Loya that United States government agents and/or Mexican authorities were conducting investigations near the home territories of cartel leaders so that the cartel leaders could take appropriate actions to evade investigators.”

In addition, the pleadings allege, the US government agreed not to “share any of the information they had about the Sinaloa Cartel and/or the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel with the Mexican government in order to better assure that they would not be apprehended and so that their operations would not be interfered with.”

More from the July 29 pleadings:

Zambada Niebla was a party to the agreement between the United States government and the Sinaloa Cartel and provided information to the United States government through Loya pursuant to the agreement.

… Loya arranged for Mr. Zambada Niebla to meet with United States government agents at the Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City in March [17th] of 2009 [after the Obama administration took power] for the purpose of introducing Mr. Zambada Niebla to the agents and for the purpose of his continuing to provide information to the DEA and the United States government personally, rather than through Loya.

Loya’s federal case had been dismissed in 2008 [while Bush was still in the White House] and the DEA representative told Mr. Loya-Castro that they wanted to establish a more personal relationship with Mr. Zambada Niebla so that they could deal with him directly under the agreement. Mr. Zambada Niebla believed that under the prior agreement, any activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, including the kind described in the indictment, were covered by the agreement, and that he was immune from arrest or prosecution.

Zambada Niebla claims, in the court pleadings, that he attended the meeting in March 2009 at the hotel in Mexico City as scheduled, with Loya present, and while there, even though he was then under indictment in the US, was told by US federal agents that he would not be arrested and that arrangements had been made “at the highest levels of the United States government” to assure his immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation in providing information on rival narco-trafficking groups.

However, Zambada Niebla contends he was double-crossed, despite the assurance of the US agents.

He alleges in his pleadings that government agents “were satisfied with the information he had provided to them” at the meeting at the Sheraton Hotel on March 17, 2009, and that “arrangements would be made to meet with him again.”

“Mr. Zambada Niebla then left the meeting,” the court pleadings assert. “Approximately five hours after the [hotel] meeting, Mr. Zambada-Niebla was arrested by Mexican authorities.”

Fast, Furious and the House of Death

Zambada Niebla’s pleadings also reference the controversial U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) weapons-trafficking interdiction program Fast and Furious — an operation, now the subject of Congressional hearings, that allegedly allowed some 2,000 guns to be smuggled across the US/Mexican border under ATF’s watch. Zambada Niebla contends that Fast and Furious is yet another example of the US government’s complicity in the carnage of the drug war.

From Zambada Niebla’s pleadings:

The United States government considered the arrangements with the Sinaloa Cartel an acceptable price to pay, because the principal objective was the destruction and dismantling of rival cartels by using the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel — without regard for the fact that tons of illicit drugs continued to be smuggled into Chicago and other parts of the United States and consumption continued virtually unabated.

Essentially, the theory of the United States government in waging its “war on drugs” has been and continues to be that the “end justifies the means” and that it is more important to receive information about rival drug cartels’ activities from the Sinaloa Cartel in return for being allowed to continue their criminal activities, including and not limited to their smuggling of tons of illegal narcotics into the United States. This is confirmed by recent disclosures by the Congressional Committee’s investigation of the latest Department of Justice, DEA, FBI, and ATF’s “war on drugs” operation known as “Fast & Furious.”

As a result of Operation Fast and Furious, the pleadings assert, about “three thousand people” in Mexico were killed, “including law enforcement officers in the sate of Sinaloa, Mexico, headquarters of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

Among those receiving weapons through the ATF operation, the pleadings continue, were DEA and FBI informants working for drug organizations, including the leadership of those groups.

“The evidence seems to indicate that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that tax payers’ dollars in the form of informant payments, may have financed those engaging in such activities,” the pleadings allege. “… It is clear that some of the weapons were deliberately allowed by the FBI and other government representatives to end up in the hands of the Sinaloa Cartel and that among the people killed by those weapons were law enforcement officers.

“… Mr. Zambada Niebla believes that the documentation that he requests [from the US government] will confirm that the weapons received by Sinaloa Cartel members and its leaders in Operation ‘Fast & Furious’ were provided under the agreement entered into between the United States government and [Chapo Guzman confidante] Mr. Loya Castro on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel that is the subject of his [Zambada Niebla’s] defense [regarding] public authority.”

The Zambada Niebla pleadings even reference the infamous House of Death case, so named by Narco News, which has published an exhaustive series of investigative stories on the mass-murder case dating back to 2004.

From the pleadings:

Mr. Zambada Niebla also requests … that the United States government produce material relating to the … “House of Death” murders, which took place in Juarez, Mexico, and were committed by United States government informants. As confirmed in the Joint Assessment Report [JAT] prepared by government authorities investigating those murders, agents of the United States government had prior knowledge that murders were going to be committed by their informants but did not take any measures to either inform the Mexican government or the intended victims, because government representatives determined it was moreimportant to protect the identity of their informants.

The informants were assisting the United States government in the investigations of major drug traffickers and the government determined that the killings of over a hundred Mexican citizens was an acceptable price to pay for enabling them to continue their narcotics investigations.

The Great Pretense Unmasked

In its response to Zambada Niebla’s claim that he was working under “public authority” as an informant or confidential source, US federal prosecutors don’t claim outright that he was not a US government asset. They argue, instead, only that “the government denies that defendant [Zambada Niebla] exercised public authority when he committed the serious crimes charged in the indictment.” In other words, even if Zambada Niebla was offered some type of deal in exchange for his cooperation, that deal did not extend to the specific acts he is accused of in the indictment against him.

Federal prosecutors also ask that the court order Zambada Niebla to produce, prior to trial, “evidence that a specific American official or officials with actual or apparent authority expressly authorized [him] to import multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States, as charged in the indictment, or expressly assured [him] that these acts were not criminal, and that [he] reasonably relied on these communications.”

Narco News spoke with several former DEA and FBI agents about Zambada Niebla’s contention that he worked, in essence, as an informant for the US government. Not one of those former agents, who asked that their names not be revealed, considered it out of the realm of possibility that Zambada Niebla might have cut a deal with the US government.

In fact, one former DEA agent said that by making such a claim, Zambada Niebla was essentially putting his life in jeopardy by outing himself as an informant, an extreme move that would seem to indicate that at least he believes he had a deal in place.

But, in the end, all of the former federal agents agree that unless Zambada Niebla has proof of his allegations that passes legal muster, he has little chance of prevailing — and at least one of those former agents said prosecutors would not likely have challenged him to produce such proof if they did not have a high degree of confidence that it does not exist.

A former FBI agent explained it this way:

The U. S. Attorney General Guidelines for Informants requires that there be a written document called an “otherwise criminal activities memo” signed by both parties. This document spells out exactly what the informant is authorized to do and tells him that he may be prosecuted for any other illegal activities. This should be provided to the defense in discovery; however, it does not always happen. Some attorneys are not aware of this and do not ask for it in discovery and the government does not willingly give it up.

I suspect that the government did not provide this document to the defense and that is why they are demanding that he provide proof of his status. … It would be very easy to prove what he was authorized to do by having the memo. [So] this may be a case of where the memo was never done….

The former DEA agent, who has extensive overseas experience, added:

My instincts say he was an informant. It’s [Zambada Niebla’s pleadings are] an effort to “scare” or “frighten” the government to dismiss or reduce charges. Posturing, as it were. But there is a substantial risk for him. It’s pretty much a last ditch effort. Were it otherwise, the defendant would not want to be exposed as having cooperated with the government agents. However, he will have an enormous challenge proving his allegations.

… An agent [or US government agency would approve such a cooperative relationship with a narco-trafficker] … so the agent can snag a higher-level trafficker and garner the resulting awards, commendations and promotions. Sometimes, there is outright bribery or gifts of value. It’s a win for the criminal informant because he may earn more money from trafficking and at the same time receive cash payments from the government for arrests he orchestrates. And that isn’t all: the informant’s own fear of arrest is reduced and he has a unique opportunity to effectively destroy his unwanted competition or archenemies.

And yet another DEA agent points out that “there is such an animal called an Attorney General-exempt operation, where the Attorney General of the United States [in the Zambada Niebla case, which allegedly dates back to at least 2004, it would have been the Bush administration’s Attorney General] could authorize that laws be violated [by an informant to advance a case].”

“This is usually done in money laundering investigations, however,” the DEA source said.

The other possibility, the former DEA agent adds, is that Zambada Niebla was tricked on an even deeper level, and was, in fact, not dealing with US law enforcement agencies, but rather a CIA intelligence operation.

“This would not be the first time CIA has used an informant and led them to believe it was an FBI, ICE or DEA operation,” the DEA source said.

If that is the case, the former DEA agent adds, Zambada Niebla’s case is sunk, since even if documents and other evidence exist to prove his allegations of US government complicity, that evidence would almost certainly be deep-sixed under claims of national security that would be invoked by that very same US government.

Stay tuned …..

‘Our Government will Sacrifice People to Accomplish a Goal’

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
January 18, 2011

Former drug dealer and government asset Ricky Ross is back in the news.  After spending 20 years in prison, Ross spoke to Russia Today television and painted a clear picture of how the U.S. government orchestrated the Iran-Contra operation and what it was capable of doing in order to further its agenda.

George H.W. Bush -head of the CIA- and Ronald Reagan simply let the commerce of drugs from Central America into the U.S. take place, said Ross to Russia Today, which enabled the financing of military covert operation in Nicaragua in the 80’s.  According to Ross, the United States did not want to let Russia take over Nicaragua as it was thought Central America was America’s backyard, and having Russians in Central America would be dangerous for the country.

Ross reminded viewers that back then, Congress had stop all financing for this kind of operation, therefore the U.S. government found it kosher to take over drug smuggling -which it continues to do until today- in order to pay for its operation in Nicaragua.  The Iran-Contra scandal almost brought down the Reagan administration, which hung from a thread for a while after the scandal was made public.

“We’ve known of several times in history when it’s sacrificed people, especially black men”, said Ross.  “They felt it was more valuable to keep the Russians and out and to keep our way of life.”  When questioned by the reporter about whether he thought the U.S. still participated in operations to smuggle drugs into the country or to take them around the world, Ross referenced the explosive increase in drug sales from Afghanistan to Europe and other places.  “Well, I mean, if we look at Afghanistan, when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, the flow of heroin was almost zero, and now it is hundreds of percents what it was then.”

Ross then spoke about Gary Webb -the murdered journalist who to a great extent exposed the Iran-Contra operation- and his reporting on the scandal.  Ross said the main stream media attacked him by twisting information Webb put out.  According to him, the media lied by saying Webb implied the U.S. government physically sent drugs into black neighborhoods, as supposed to what Webb had documented -that the U.S. government let drug dealers operate freely in order to obtain funds to continue its attack on the Sandinistas.

“Our government is out of control.  Even with the crooked cops, there was nobody we could go to and express what was going on.”  Along with Ross, countless police officers, drug dealers and others have testified of the American government’s involvement in drug dealing and trafficking and how government institutions were created to end dissent and establish a smoke screen for a secret continuity of government agenda. Much of that money, as it has been made public, is laundered through the cartels controlled by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, who then make the money disappear into ghost bank accounts.

See Ross’ complete interview below.