Organized Crime

Dedos Muertos?

Jan 26th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime


This State Department cable out of Wikileaks caught my eye. 51 FBI informants and 10 DEA "liaison officers" were murdered in Mexico between 2007-09.

When we talk about American law enforcement in Mexico, we generally view the Americans as not being part of the game; for the most part, this has held true since the wars began.

But I wonder about these 61 informants and liaisons. Were the 51 also Mexican informants and therefore murdered for that connection or were they killed because of their ties to the Americans? Same for the 10 liaisons. Were they killed because they were Mexican intelligence officers or because they were working with the Americans?

Hundreds Gather to Honor Murdered Border Agent

Jan 21st, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime, Politics
The U.S. Border Patrol held a memorial service in Tucson on Friday morning, paying homage to one of its elite agents, Brian Terry, who was killed during a gunbattle with bandits in a canyon along the Arizona-Mexico border. He was a man who friends called "Super-Cop." (Click inside for slideshow of images.) This is a story I produced for KJZZ's Fronteras Desk, public radio, Arizona. TUCSON – Hundreds of Border Patrol agents filled part of the baseball stadium in a sea of olive green. A line of riflemen stood at attention as the American flag and the agency's own flag fluttered in the cool morning air. They were here to honor an elite Border Patrol agent murdered last month. Brian Terry was a former Marine and cop who became an agent in his late thirties. Agent Jose Verdugo had known Terry since their days in the Border Patrol Academy. They they ran into each other in a hall recently and Verdugo says he wasn't surprised to see Terry in the uniform of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit. "Brian, your work ethic, your integrity and your sense of honor were infectious and inspirational. Rest in peace, super-cop," he said. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin addressed the agents, telling them the murderers will be captured. "The reason why he was in those canyons west of Nogales and the reasons why our Border Patrol agents go out on the line and stand between harm and the American people is because we are determined to restore the rule of law to the United States Mexico border. And this sector in Tucson is the last place where it must happen," Bersin said. Four Mexican men have been arrested as part of the investigation into the murder. Nobody has been charged.
Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

A Border Legacy

Jan 17th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime


TUCSON – When a gunman killed six people last Saturday in Tucson, he took the life of one of the hardest working judges along the U.S.-Mexico border. Federal Judge John Roll was truly impartial, even in a time when rhetoric dominates much of the politics of the border region. Those who worked in his courtroom say that Tucson and the southwest lost what was very much a border judge.

Produced for KJZZ's Fronteras Desk. Click to listen.

A line of cars streamed down the road. Hundreds of people walked somberly into the church to pay their respects to Judge John Roll. The faces were somber and tearful.

Reina del Pacifico Absolved

Dec 3rd, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime


I'm sitting in a conference right now but holy hell. All charges? Really? And Tigre Espinosa turned snitch?

Welcome home, Barbie

Nov 21st, 2010 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime


No les digo, pues? Mexico has begun the process to extradite Edgar La Barbie Valdez Villarreal to the U.S. to stand trial. In September, when I first wrote about this, I spent a few days looking over his indictments in U.S. District Court. Based on that, and then an interview with an attorney familiar with his case, it was determined that Barbie Valdez would not stand trial for murder in Mexico but instead face drug-trafficking charges in the U.S. You can see that story, here. In short, court documents showed that on an August afternoon in 2005, Jesus  Ramos, a truckdriver, was driving south to Atlanta and called Romero Roel Martinez, the Sinaloa Federation’s cocaine distributor for that region. Ramos told him he would meet Martinez and run a load of cash proceeds down to Texas. The next day, Aug. 17, Ramos called to arrange a meeting in the parking lot of a closed warehouse in Atlanta. At 7:30 p.m., he pulled his semi-truck in and met with two men, Joe Lopez and Luis Trevino, who arrived in a white Nissan Maxima. Trevino and Ramos loaded three Navy duffel bags stuffed with $2,533,635 into the cab of Ramos’ truck. Trevino and Lopez drove off and Ramos pulled away. On Aug. 18, the Georgia State Patrol stopped Ramos’ truck on I-85 south of Atlanta and seized the cash. Ramos initially denied knowing anything about the bags of money. On June 11, a U.S. federal judge unsealed an indictment against Edgar La Barbie Valdez Villareal and five other men. According to the Feds: they gathered evidence during a January 2008 wiretap-based trial fingering La Barbie as the source of tons cocaine imported into Atlanta from 2004 to 2006. Evidence at the trial, the Feds say, demonstrated La Barbie’s people were moving about 200 pounds of coke a week during the summer and fall of 2005. All that, they said, came up by semi-truck to Atlanta after crossing through Laredo, Texas. Still more trucks were used to run millions in cash back to Mexico. And then, on  June 18, a week after the U.S. put the heat on La Barbie, Ramos signed the plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, admitting to the initial allegations. A copy of his plea agreement shows he agreed to cooperate. Shortly after Barbie's arrest, a lawyer with a heavy investment in Mexico's organized crime syndicates reported Barbie had turned himself in, in exchange for avoiding murder charges in Mexico and doing easier time in the U.S. on this cocaine charge. La Barbie waged war on the Sinaloa Cartel's behalf in Nuevo Laredo since late 2004. He flipped with Arturo Beltrán shortly after Mochomo went down in January 2008. The wars continued, even after Arturo's hit in December 2009. How many deaths was Barbie responsible for in Mexico? Few hundred? Few thousand? No tengo la menor puta idea, but plenty. And he turns himself in. Worse, the governments of both countries are going to let it happen. That's the business.

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