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Corruption in the Drug Enforcement Administration

by XicanoPwr Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 05:56:11 PM EST

A story that fly under the radars of the mass media. A memo from a Justice Department lawyer has accused agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Bogotá, Colombia of massive corruption.

Published earlier this month by Narconews.com, an Internet publication that performs very aggressive investigative journalism, reported that the memo mentions allegations of murderous corruption in the Bogotá office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a cover-up by DEA and Justice Department internal-affairs officials, and a sale in Spain for weapons-grade nuclear materials.

The memo was written by Thomas M. Kent, an attorney in the wiretap unit of the Justice Department's Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs Section of the DEA. It makes four allegations that are summarized here as briefly as possible.

According to Narconews.com, Kent's memo contains some of the "most serious allegations" ever raised against U.S. antinarcotics officers." Kent accuses DEA agents: being the drug traffickers' payrolls, participating in the murder of informants, and, helping Colombia's rightwing paramilitary death squads to launder drug money. However, the memo does not give names or dates, only the allegations.

First allegation: Corrupt DEA Agents In Bogotá Conspired to Murder Informants Who Betrayed Them
The informants who cooperated with the DEA in Florida alleged that Bogotá agents were helping them with drug shipments. The informants also alleged that the Bogotá agents were providing them with information about U.S. and Colombian law enforcement operations. One of the Bogotá agents were caught, many of the informants who worked with the Florida DEA were murdered. "Each murder was preceded by a request for their identity by an agent in Bogotá."

Second allegation: Bogotá DEA Agents Imprison and Possibly Conspire to Murder Informants to Prevent Their Travel to U.S.
DEA informants were asked to supply a sample of the cocaine in order to show DEA chemists in FL how the cocaine could be extracted. Once the FL agents made the arrangements with the Bogotá office, the informants ended up being arrested at the Columbian airport. One of the Bogotá agents told the Colombian authorities to "lock them up and throw away the key," the Bogotá agent would later deny the informants were working with the FL agents. The informants would spend nine months in jail. "Once it was determined that the agents in Bogotá were lying, the informants were released. One of the informants was kidnapped and murdered in Bogotá where he had gone into hiding."

Third allegation: Informant Outed by Traffickers with Ties to Bogotá Agents
Several Bogotá agents were "identified as corrupt" by Florida DEA and an informant. During an investigation an informant claimed he (a) had been approached by the FARC to provide them with some communications equipment and (b) had information about weapons-grade nuclear material for sale in Spain. The informant was told by the FL office that he will agree to provide the Colombian leftist group known as FARC with the communications equipment, so U.S. could be able to intercept their communications. However, the Bogotá agents tried to shut down the investigation, when a "Bogotá agent...traveled to Washington DC...[claiming] that the informant was a pedophile. The investigation was halted. The Bogotá agent was called on his claim and could not provide any evidence." Once the investigation was resumed, the wiretaps revealed that the corrupted agents were from "Colombia and Washington, D.C." However the investigation ended quickly because "the informant was faxed a document that identified him as a DEA informant on the FARC. The document mirrored information the DEA group in Florida provided the corrupt agents in Bogotá previously."

Fourth allegation: Operation Snowplow
An internal investigation into money-laundering by corrupt agents was mysterious cancelled. "The same agent connected to the murders of the informants described in the first allegation then began to call my case agent to learn the identity of his informants."

Kent also states that the problem continues despite the corruption:

One of the corrupt agents from Bogotá, who was central to the second and third allegations, was recently intercepted over a wiretap....[I]n it he discusses his involvement in laundering money for the AUC. That call has been documented by the DEA and that agent is now in charge of numerous narcotics and money laundering investigations.

Miami Herald reported that Sandalio González, former DEA agent, told El Nuevo Herald he agrees to the accuracy of the memo.
According to Narconews.com:
Sandalio Gonzalez has a track record of standing up for what he believes in, even at the expense of his career. The discrimination complaint he now has pending in federal court in Miami stems from another drug-related case where Gonzalez refused to turn a blind eye to injustice.

Back in February 2005, Narconews.com reported that González dropped a bombshell on the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Antonio in his motion gainst the Department of Justice regarding employment discrimination. In his motion filed in federal district court in Miami, González alleged that DEA retaliated against him because he wrote up the U.S. Attorney in San Antonio for his mishandling of an informant which resulted in the informants death:

On August 20, 2004, Defendant (the Department of Justice) continued to retaliate against Plaintiff (Gonzalez) for exercising his protected rights by issuing him a Performance Appraisal Record that was a downgrade from his previous outstanding appraisal due to Defendant's unfounded allegations that Plaintiff exercised "extremely poor judgment" when Plaintiff issued a letter to the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), El Paso, Texas Field Office, and the Office of the United States Attorney (USAO), Western District of Texas, expressing his "frustration and outrage" at the mishandling of an informant in a drug investigation that resulted in several preventable murders in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and endangered the lives of DEA Special Agents and their families assigned to duty in Mexico.

It does appear the internal-affairs structure at the Justice Department is unable or unwilling to clean house. And one does have to wonder when Kent's memo states that an investigator of the Inspector-General "was advised...[that]the process of holding those responsible accountable may destroy his career....He was recently removed from the investigation for reasons that still remain a mystery."

Definitely corruption and cover-ups runs deep in the Bush mafia.

I am surprised and shocked, shocked I tell you, at these developments. </snark>

There is a lot of money in the drugs business, corruption at the DEA is inevitable from time to time. Sadly, what turns this into a scandal and a tragedy is the inability of the Justice department to act on it and root it out.

For radicals like me, this is yet another sign that the "War on Drugs" is a doomed enterprise, but the lack of justice and action should disturb even those who support the DEA approach in general.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:12:39 PM EST
You are correct about the corruption. As that old saying goes "Money talks, and bullshit walks" but I think there is a touch of fear that is added as well. If they didn't take the money, I am sure they fear their doom will also come.

What I do wonder about, how much of that money is being used to fund Bush's war?

Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today. - Gandhi

by XicanoPwr (chicanopwr at gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But ... but drugs are baaaaad !!! Just say no !

Yes, it's pretty sad and perfectly expected. Lots of money, lots of people on the take.
by Francois in Paris on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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